The NBA and NBPA made a groundbreaking announcement on Friday as the players agreed to resume the postseason with several new social justice initiatives in place. The league will form a coalition of players, coaches and governors to work on social justice programs, and televised advertising spots throughout the postseason will be devoted to promoting civic engagement. The most important development, however, will be the conversion of NBA arenas into voting sites for the 2020 presidential election.
“In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections 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,” the NBA’s statement read. “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.”
The distinction in the first sentence is critical. Some NBA arenas are privately owned, allowing teams to easily offer them up as polling sites. Others are owned publicly, or by a mix of private entities, which makes use for elections slightly more complicated. Publicly owned arenas can still be used as voting sites, as will be the case with the AT&T Center, where the San Antonio Spurs play, but those decisions will be made by local officials.
For now, let’s take stock of where the NBA’s initiative to turn arenas into voting sites stand. Which arenas have already announced plans to be converted into polling sites, which ones will likely join them, and which ones are owned by the public and out of the NBA’s hands.
Teams to announce prior to joint NBA/NBPA statement
- Atlanta Hawks. On June 29, the Hawks announced that State Farm Arena would be used for early voting for the Georgia General Primary Runoff Election between July 20-Aug. 11, and it will be used for the general election on Nov. 3 as well.
- Detroit Pistons. On July 1, the Pistons announced that their practice facility, the Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center, would serve as a polling place on Nov. 3. Additionally, they announced several other initiatives, including a voter registration page on Pistons.com and live voter registration events at the practice facility.
- Sacramento Kings. The Golden 1 Center will be open to voters for registration from Oct. 24 through Nov. 3 and will serve as a voting center on Election Day, the Kings announced on July 17.
- Washington Wizards. On Aug. 10, the Wizards announced that Capital One Arena would be used as a voting site, but details are still being determined.
- Houston Rockets. The Toyota Center will be open to registered voters from Oct. 13-30 and on Election Day, Nov. 3, the team announced on Aug. 27.
Teams to announce since joint NBA/NBPA statement
- Los Angeles Clippers. The Forum, which is owned privately after Steve Ballmer purchased it from Knicks owner James Dolan in May, will be available for voters from Oct. 24-Nov. 3 to either drop off mail-in ballots or vote in person, the Clippers announced. The Clippers do not play at the Forum. The Staples Center, where they and the Los Angeles Lakers play, is privately owned and operated, has not been announced as a voting site.
- New York Knicks. Madison Square Garden will be available for early voting from Oct. 24-Nov. 1 for over 60,000 registered New York voters assigned to it as a polling place, and will be open on Election Day itself from 6 a.m. through 9 p.m., ET, the Knicks announced.
- Indiana Pacers. Banker’s Life Field House will be available as a voting site from Oct. 24-Nov. 1, and on Election Day, Nov. 3, the Pacers announced.
- Utah Jazz. Vivint Smart Home Arena will serve as a voting site on Election Day, Nov. 3, the Jazz announced. In addition, three Larry H. Miller Multiplex Theaters in Utah will be used as voting sites as well.
- San Antonio Spurs. Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez revealed Friday that the AT&T Center will be used as a voting site. The team has not followed that up with a release of its own, but the arena is owned by Bexar County.
- Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks announced that American Airlines Center will be used as a voting site as part of its “7 Days of Action” Initiative.
Teams that have not made official announcements, but are expected to participate
- Milwaukee Bucks. On July 1, Bucks owner Alex Lasry announced that the team would partner with LeBron James‘ More than a Vote initiative to make Fiserv Forum available as a voting site. The team itself has not made an official announcement since then, however.
- Golden State Warriors. The Chase Center is planning on serving as a voting site, but has not yet made an official announcement, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. An announcement is expected in the near future.
Teams that play in publicly owned arenas
- Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies announced Friday that they had reached out to the Shelby County Election Commission about using FedEx Forum as a voting site, but were told instead to focus on driving voters to local precincts.
- Brooklyn Nets. Barclays Center is technically owned by the Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation, which leases the arena to Brooklyn Events Center, LLC, an entity owned by Nets owner Joe Tsai, for $1 per year.
- Phoenix Suns. Talking Stick Center is owned by the Phoenix City Council, and is currently being renovated, which will prevent it from being used as a voting site.
- Cleveland Cavaliers. Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is owned by the Gateway Economic Development Corporation, a non-profit that also owns Progressive Field.
- Orlando Magic. Amway Center is owned by the Orlando City Council.
- Miami Heat. American Airlines Arena is owned by Miami-Dade County.
- Charlotte Hornets. Spectrum Center is owned by the Charlotte City Council.
- Minnesota Timberwolves. Target center is owned by the city of Minneapolis.
- Oklahoma City Thunder. Chesapeake Energy Arena is owned by Oklahoma City.
- New Orleans Pelicans. Smoothie King Center is owned by the state of Louisiana.