Some NBA arenas will become 2020 voting locations as part of the players' deal to resume the playoffs

  • Some NBA arenas will be converted into in-person voting sites this November as part of a deal the NBA reached with the league's player's association to resume this season's playoffs. 
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBPA executive director announced the players have agreed to continue the playoffs in exchange for commitments from the league to social justice and civic engagement. 
  • "In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local election officials to convert the facility into a voting location," the statement read.
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Some NBA arenas will be used as in-person voting sites this November as part of a deal the NBA reached with the league's player's association to resume this season's playoffs as many teams demanded a stop to play after the police shooting of an unarmed Black man.

In a joint statement Friday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts announced they had reached a deal to continue this season's playoffs on Saturday, which include commitments from the league to promoting civic engagement, voting, and addressing systemic racism. 

"In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local election officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID-19," the statement listed as one of three commitments from the league, also opening up the possibility for stadiums to be used as voter registration sites or facilities where ballots can be counted. 

The statement also said the league and players "have agreed immediately to establish a social justice coalition" and will air advertisements during games encouraging viewers to vote. 

 

In an unprecedented move earlier this week, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic announced they would not play in a scheduled match in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man who was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin police officers. 

The teams demanded the Wisconsin state legislature take action on police reform and racism, and even called Wisconsin's Attorney General Josh Kaul from their locker room. 

Their strike set off a series of similar moves across the sports world, with fellow NBA teams, WNBA, MLA, and MLS teams also going on strike and demanding concrete action on racial justice before agreeing to play again. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many localities across the United States have struggled to hold in-person voting with sufficient room for social distancing or have been unable to use certain spaces, like senior centers, as polling locations.

Some counties have turned to hosting in-person voting at large vote centers including sports stadiums are other convention centers.

In Kentucky, officials in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, decided to hold all Election Day in-person voting for the June 23 primary entirely at the Kentucky Exposition Center, a 1.2 million-square-foot convention center that allowed for there to be room for hundreds of voting booths and social distancing. 

Already, the Atlanta Hawks offered up its arena to be used as an in-person voting location for Georgia's August 11 primary runoff elections, and before Friday's announcement, the Houston Rockets announced and election officials in Harris County announced that the Toyota Center will be used as an in-person voting site with free parking for Texas' early voting period and on November 3rd. 

Many basketball players and prominent athletes have used their platforms to advocate not just for police reform but expanded voting rights and an end to voter suppression in the wake of several high-profile incidents of African-Americans dying in encounters with police, deaths that sparked protests across the nation over the summer. 

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the world's most pre-eminent athletes, co-founded an organization called More Than a Vote, which is taking on a number of initiatives to expand voter access in Black communities, including registering and turning out Black voters, combatting suppression, and, most recently, partnering with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to recruit pollworkers.

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