Dozens of major arenas and stadiums across the US will today welcome voters for the Presidential election after agreeing to play their part in encouraging citizens to participate.
Venues that usually host elite sports events have been opening their doors to voters in recent weeks and can expect to see tens of thousands of visitors casting their votes on the day that America decides whether incumbent Donald Trump or opponent Joe Biden will become their leader.
Arenas in 25 states have joined the Election Super Centers project and #makehistoryhere campaign since the Atlanta Hawks announced in June that it would allow its State Farm Arena to become Georgia’s largest-ever voting precinct. In addition to offering the 680,000-square-foot facility, hundreds of Hawks and State Farm Arena employees have been trained to serve as election workers.
Team and venue owners have cited concerns over low turn-out – especially among minority communities – and ensuring the safety of voters as the reasons they wanted to become involved in the campaign.
“When our ownership group purchased the Hawks and State Farm Arena five years ago, we were clear that we felt it was our responsibility to make sure the organisation was an important civic asset to the city of Atlanta,” said Tony Ressler, Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena’s principal owner.
“Utilising State Farm Arena and our incredible staff to make the arena an accessible and vital polling site in an important election year is a fulfilment on that promise.”
LA Dodgers’ Dodgers Stadium, New York’s Madison Square Garden and the new home of Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, SoFi Stadium, have all been used. As well as stadiums and arenas, some teams have also offered tailgate and practice centres.
In September it was announced that all NBA team-owned arenas would work with local elections officials to convert facilities into voting locations. The pledge was made after pressure from NBA players who had threatened to miss games following the shooting of a black man by police in Wisconsin.
Many arenas have been early voting sites, with citizens able to cast their ballots from mid-October. Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, served as an early voting site from October 20 until November 1. The Milwaukee Brewers baseball team opened Miller Park for early drive-through voting while Los Angeles’ Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers has served as a voting centre and as a vote-by-mail drop box location.
Image: LA Dodgers