Now Arena boosting pay to attract scarce event workers
Hoffman Estates' village-owned Now Arena will increase pay to its event workers employed through Andy Frain Services during the final four months of the year to recruit enough of them in the midst of a general labor shortage coming out of the pandemic.
"This has a direct effect on the customer service of the entire building," Now Arena General Manager Ben Gibbs said before the village board's 6-0 approval Monday night. "We want to find competent, good people to work."
Three All Elite Wrestling events during the first week of September are expected to be among the busiest events the 11,000-seat arena has hosted in the past two years, with the final one on Sept. 5 having already sold out, Gibbs said. But coming off a 16-month shutdown of the facility, more than 100 additional people need to be found by then.
As recommended by Andy Frain Services, based on its contracts throughout the Chicago region, the village board's approval allows for pay increases of 13% to 30% depending on the job category.
At least through the end of the year, the Now Arena intends to absorb the added costs itself without passing them along in such ways as higher rental or parking fees, Gibbs said. Within a few months, another assessment will be done to see if the labor market is still demanding the same pay and a different approach may be taken then.
Gibbs told village trustees that this wouldn't be a good time for the Now Arena to be seen by the security staff, ushers and parking attendants employed by Andy Frain Services as the lowest-paying venue they could work for.
"Right now, I think this is reasonable," he said of the higher wages. "It's not just finding people, it's finding good people. If you go cheap on labor, you're going to get that level of quality."
The coming autumn when concerts, family shows and Windy City Bulls games restart is the time to build up repeat customers again from the positive experiences that good employees can provide, Gibbs said.