'They Needed The Money More Than I Did': Iowa Cubs Owner Kept All Full-Time Employees On During Pandemic

May 12, 2021

Iowa Cubs baseball returned to Des Moines last week, thanks to the leadership of majority owner and chairman Michael Gartner.

iowa cubs owner pays staff pandemic
Michael Gartner / Credit: Des Moines Register

When the Pacific Coast League announced the cancellation of the 2020 season last June due to the pandemic, most minor league baseball owners furloughed or laid off full-time staff members.

But Gartner remained loyal to his staff.

"We kept everybody on full pay and benefits the whole time. We lost $4 million, but they needed the money more than I did," Gartner told the Des Moines Register.

"To get ready for (Opening Day), I didn't really have to do anything. I've got all these great people who work here."

Gartner's commitment to his workers last year may have hurt the franchise's finances in the short-term, but the decision paid off when the 2021 season rolled around.

"Michael takes a long-term look at everything," Iowa vice president and assistant general manager Randy Wehofer said. "That's why we can think about not only tomorrow, but next year, too. We can even look beyond the pandemic. He sets the tone for that."

As for the fans, they're just happy to be able to attend games in person again.

"I'm a big baseball fan, and it's not the same sitting at home all the time watching on TV with cardboard people in the stands," fan Steve Elsberry said.

"They missed it, and they're just happy to be back," Gartner said. "A piece of their life has come back."

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