CEO Leonsis pays part-timers for Wizards, Mystics and Capitals through April

Ted Leonsis -- the CEO of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the NBA's Washington Wizards, WNBA's Mystics and NHL's Capitals -- said he's committed to paying his 1,500 part-time employees through April.

"I felt that it was the right thing to do, to pay our part-time employees that signed up to work in March and April," said Leonsis, who estimated that the payments totaled $1.2 million. "It's not an advance to them. When they come back, they'll sign up to staff the new games and we'll pay them there."

Leonsis, speaking at a webinar with the Economics Club of Washington D.C., said it was payment that part-time employees -- such as ushers and game day security -- would've made for games that have since been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of COVID-19, companies have suffered crippling financial losses and millions of Americans have been left unemployed. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week.

Leonsis said Monumental Sports and Entertainment has not had layoffs or furloughs for any of its 600 full-time employees.

"We have probably been hurt the most, if you will, because we own many teams and we own the building," Leonsis said. "Remember there's many teams that play in a building that is owned by the state."

Leonsis said that he hopes that the NBA will be able to play out the rest of the regular season and then hold playoff games. When the season halted March 11, the Wizards were ninth in the Eastern Conference standings and unlikely to make the postseason.

The Capitals, meanwhile, were second in the Eastern Conference and first in the Metropolitan Division when the NHL season was paused March 12. They had 13 regular-season games remaining, with eight of them at home.

When asked how realistic the prospects of playing out the season were, Leonsis cited Dr. Anthony Fauci's recommendation that it could be possible, if the leagues commit to playing games without fans and quarantining players and necessary staff members in hotels.

"The NBA is like our federal government, if you will," Leonsis said. "It will take its lead from governors and the federal government and all of the public health associations, and we listen to them. We can't play games on our own.

"We are operating in a suspended mode and all of our focus is on what to do about the remainder of the season."

Leonsis said he's hopeful that when crowds are allowed back into arenas, it's not on a restricted basis. NHL teams like the Carolina Hurricanes are modeling the economics of having home games with a smaller capped capacity, for social distancing purposes.

"I would really like to find a way [where sports are] a communal resource," said Leonsis, "and that we can have everyone participate."

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.