The Multnomah Athletic Club, a bulwark of establishment Portland, announced to its members today that it is laying off most of its staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today, the board of trustees and executive leadership team took the unprecedented, but necessary, step of laying off more than 600 of our employees. This was an agonizing decision, as MAC staff are an integral part of what makes our community so special. Employees will receive pay through April 25. They will be eligible for unemployment benefits starting April 26. This means employees will have received a total of six weeks of pay and benefits during the full duration of the club's closure," MAC general manager Charles Leverton and president William Lee announced in an email to members.

"We intend to recall as many staff as possible when normal club operations resume. Approximately 75 essential employees remain to manage and maintain the building and provide virtual experiences and services to members."

Founded in 1891, the club serves 22,000 members in its 600,000 feet of space at 1849 SW Salmon St., adjacent to Providence Park.

The club, which is organized at a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, generated more than $43 million in revenue last year and showed an operating surplus—revenues minus expenses of about $3.3. It also had more than $30 million in cash and marketable securities according to its most recent tax return.

But the message to members said that financial strength isn't enough in a period when the club is closed due to the novel coronavirus and is charging reduced dues.

"Even with the ability to leverage some of our member reserve funds to help mitigate the financial impacts, it is not enough to keep us from laying off staff. We recognize that our members have been hit hard too. Unfortunately, balancing the financial and operational impacts of a lengthy closure with the fiscal health of our organization leaves us with no better option," Leverton and Lee wrote.

"It is a somber day for the MAC family, and while we are confident this was a necessary decision, it does not make today any easier. We are in the process of establishing an employee relief fund and will share details as soon as they are available."