Empty Venues Open to Voters as Sports Wade In to Politics

Emily Caron and Lev Akabas
·4 min read

Activism in sports has returned to the forefront over the last several months, as players speak out and leagues show heightened support during a time of amplified political awareness throughout the country. Players, teams and leagues across all sports have gotten directly involved in this election cycle through widespread voter registration and education initiatives. Sports venues, too, have become part of the process.

A number of arenas, stadiums and team facilities have offered up their spaces as voting or polling centers, operations space for election officials or registration and ballot-drop locations. Other venues will serve additional election-related functions: The Detroit Lions’ Ford Field will be a secure holding place for ballots and equipment once polls close after Election Day, while the Shelby County Election Commission will count absentee ballots at the Memphis Grizzlies’ FedEx Forum.

Several WNBA teams, including the Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty share arenas with NBA teams that will volunteer their venues for voting activities.

Not every offer has been accepted by local election commissions. Miami-Dade County rejected AmericanAirlines Arena as an early-voting location, citing concerns that the venue would not be available in future election cycles when they coincided with the regular NBA playing schedule. The Miami Heat, however, rebutted that the team had been committed to making the arena available long-term and implied that the decision was an attempt to “quiet [their] voice on the critical importance of voting.” Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Election Commission canceled plans to use the Brewers’ Miller Park and the Bucks’ Fiserv Forum for early voting for fear of legal challenges to Wisconsin ballots received there.

A few locations, including the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chesapeake Arena, the Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park and the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium served as voter registration centers earlier this fall and have now closed to voters. As Election Day approaches, here are the venues still serving as part of the process:

South:

Atlanta, Ga. – Hawks’ State Farm Arena (Voting precinct)

Charlotte, N.C. – Hornets’ Spectrum Center (Early voting site)

Charlotte, N.C. – Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium (Early voting site)

Dallas, Texas – Mavericks’ American Airlines Center (Polling site)

Houston, Texas – Rockets’ Toyota Center (Voting center)

Houston, Texas – Texans’ NRG Park (Election headquarters for the Harris County Clerk’s Office, early voting site and Election Day location)

Orlando, Fla. –Magic’s Amway Center (Early voting site)

San Antonio, Texas – Spurs’ AT&T Center (Voting center)

Tampa Bay, Fla. – Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium (Early voting site)

Tampa Bay, Fla. – Lightning’ Amalie Arena (Early voting site and ballot drop-off center)

East:

Baltimore, Md. – Orioles’ Camden Yards (Voting center)

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Nets’ Barclays Center (Polling site)

Newark, N.J. – Devils’ Prudential Center (Polling site)

New York, N.Y. – Knicks, New York Rangers’ Madison Square Garden (Early voting and Election Day polling site)

Philadelphia, Pa. – 76ers’ Wells Fargo Center (General election activities)

Prince George’s County, Md. – Washington Football Team’s FedEx Field (Voting center)

Washington, D.C. – Wizards, Capitals’ Capital One Arena (Polling site)

Washington, D.C. – Mystics’ Entertainment and Sports Arena (Voting center)

Washington, D.C. – Nationals’ Nationals Park (Voting center)

Midwest:

Cleveland, Ohio – Cavaliers’ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (Polling site)

Detroit, Mich. – Pistons’ Henry Ford Performance Center, Pistons practice venue (Registration and ‘satellite’ voting center)

Green Bay, Wisc. – Packers’ Johnsonville Tailgate Village in the Lambeau Field parking lot (Polling site)

Indianapolis, Ind. – Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium (Voting site)

Indianapolis, Ind. – Pacers’ Bankers Life Field House (Voting center)

Kansas City, Mo. – Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium (Polling site)

West:

Denver, Colo. – Nuggets’ Pepsi Center (Early/Voting center)

Los Angeles, Calif. – Clippers’ The Forum (Voting center)

Los Angeles, Calif. –Lakers, NHL’s Kings’ Staples Center (Voting center)

Los Angeles, Calif. – Rams and Chargers’ SoFi Stadium (Early/Voting center)

Los Angeles, Calif. – Dodgers’ Dodger Stadium (Polling site, voting center)

Los Angeles, Calif. – LA FC’s Banc of California Stadium (Voting center)

Oakland, Calif. – Warriors’ Oakland Facility (Polling site/voting ballot drop location)

Phoenix, Ariz. – Suns’ Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Voting center/early voting ballot drop location)

Sacramento, Calif. – Kings’ Golden 1 Center (Voting center)

Salt Lake City, Utah – Jazz’s Vivint Smart Home Arena (Polling center)

San Francisco, Calif. – 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium (Early voting/Voting site)

San Francisco, Calif. – Warriors’ Chase Center (Polling site/voting ballot drop location)

Santa Cruz, Calif. – Santa Cruz Warriors’ Kaiser Permanente Arena, Golden State’s G League affiliate (Polling site/voting ballot drop location)

Seattle, Wash. – Seahawks, Sounders’ CenturyLink Field (Voting center)

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