SALT LAKE CITY — Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers, the Utah Jazz did not seek or accept a federal loan designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
Larry H. Miller’s automotive franchise dealerships qualified for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program to pay and retain as many employees as possible. But no other parts of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, including the Jazz, Salt Lake Bees, Vivint Smart Home Arena and Megaplex Theatres, participated in the application process, said CEO Steve Starks.
The applications were strictly limited to the company’s auto dealerships because that’s what the guidance was from the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration, he said.
“We did not draw on the funds and have canceled the loans to ensure small businesses who need the most help can benefit from the program. No other entities within the privately owned Larry H. Miller Group of Companies applied for or received PPP relief,” Starks said in a statement Wednesday.
Starks expressed gratitude for Larry H. Miller employees, front-line workers, decision-makers and others working to ensure the health and safety of the community.
“While our sports and entertainment businesses remain shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic at this time, we look forward to welcoming our fans and guests back as soon as it’s safe to do so,” he said.
The Lakers received $4.6 million under the Payroll Protection Program but returned it Monday amid public backlash. The team qualified for the program because it employs about 300 full- and part-time staff members.
According to Forbes, the Lakers are valued at $4.4 billion, the second most-valuable team in the NBA.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was among those criticizing one of the most storied NBA franchises, now led on the court by LeBron James.
“I never expected in a million years that the Los Angeles Lakers, which, I’m a big fan of the team, but I’m not a big fan of the fact that they took a $4.6 million loan,” Mnuchin said Tuesday on CNBC. “I think that’s outrageous and I’m glad they returned it or they would have had liability.”