Team-owned NBA arenas to open as voting stations

The NBA basketball league resumed on Saturday after it was agreed that steps will be taken for all team-owned arenas to be used as voting stations during the upcoming US presidential election.

The NBA was one of a number of US sports that came to a halt last week as players boycotted fixtures in protest at the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a policeman in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Women’s NBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer fixtures were also postponed, while tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of her semi-final at the Western & Southern Open.

The NBA play-offs did resume on Saturday following a joint statement from commissioner Adam Silver and Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. The statement outlined an agreement to resume games on the understanding that the league will work with players on three commitments.

One of the commitments will see the NBA and its players establish a social justice coalition with representatives from players, coaches and governors, that will focus on increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.

The league will also work with the players and network partners to create and include advertising spots in each playoff game dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections.

The third commitment will see team governors in every city in which the NBA franchise owns and controls its arena continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the upcoming general election.

The move is designed to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities that are vulnerable to COVID-19. If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards.

Since the announcement, it has been confirmed that Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, will serve as an early voting site from October 20 until November 1. The Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball team will also open Miller Park for early drive-through voting for the general election.

Los Angeles’ Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the WNBA’s Sparks and the NHL’s Kings, will also open as a voting centre. Voters can cast their ballot from October 30 through to Election Day on November 3, with the arena to also serve as a vote-by-mail drop box location.

Other NBA arenas that will serve as voting centres include Golden 1 Center (Sacramento Kings), Spectrum Center (Charlotte Hornets), Toyota Center (Houston Rockets), Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks), Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indiana Pacers), Vivint Smart Home Arena (Utah Jazz), AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs), American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks) and Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (Cleveland Cavaliers). The Golden State Warriors are also set to announce that Chase Center will follow suit.

Yesterday (Monday) it was announced that Honda Center, home of the Anaheim Ducks NHL ice hockey team, will serve as a polling site after The Orange County Registrar of Voters Department approved the move in partnership with the franchise and arena organisations. Honda Center will serve as a voting location from October 30 until Election Day.

Other venues already confirmed as voting centres include Banc of California Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Capital One Arena and State Farm Arena.

Image: Staples Center