Aug 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sports stadiums may become voting sites amid pandemic

A person putting a ballot in a basketball hoop.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Dormant sports stadiums have been repurposed in a variety of ways during the pandemic, and with the national election fast approaching, some are being converted into voting locations.

Driving the news: More Than A Vote, the voting rights organization launched by LeBron James and other Black athletes like Patrick Mahomes and Sloane Stephens, has established a bipartisan arena voting advisory group.

  • The goal is to connect teams with local elections officials and convert arenas into voting sites, leveraging their size (good for social distancing) and location (easy to access/find on a map).

The backdrop: The Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Hornets are among the NBA teams that have already established such partnerships.

  • In a memo obtained by Axios, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged teams to "consider allowing their stadiums or indoor practice facilities to be used as election centers on Election Day."

What they're saying: "American Democracy does not have a pause button," the advisory group wrote in a Front Office Sports op-ed.

  • "During a civil war, two world wars, natural disasters, and domestic crises, we have managed to provide our citizens with the tools they need to fulfill the most fundamental civic duty."
  • "In this instance and in the absence of live sports, some of our most treasured civic institutions — our sports teams — can still open their doors to ensure that voting is convenient and safe for all."
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