US stadia to serve as polling stations



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Washington Capital One Arena Image: NHL

Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., US, is set to become the latest major league arena to open as a polling station for the upcoming US presidential elections in November this year.

Capital One Arena serves as the home of the Washington Wizards National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball team and the Washington Capitals National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey franchise.

Election officials in Washington, D.C., confirmed to mediapersons that the 20,000-seat facility will be used as an early voting station and day-of voting center.

Social distancing measures will strictly be enforced on voting days, and booths will be set up on the Capital One Arena concourses.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), the parent company of Capital One Arena, confirmed last month that it was in talks with the D.C. Board of Elections and the Executive Office of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser about utilizing the arena as a polling station, and a deal has now been struck.

The footprint of Capital One Arena and the social distancing protocols in place at the stadium are the reasons why the facility would sit well to greet voters. MSE will offer staff a paid day off on election day, with employees to be imparted training to serve as poll workers.

A total of 20 early voting stations will come up in Washington, D.C., with 80 places to open on polling day on November 3rd.

The news follows after fellow NBA team the Atlanta Hawks in June made its State Farm Arena home in Atlanta, US, available for polls, including November’s presidential election. The Hawks reached an agreement with the local authorities for the 680,000-square-foot facility to be used as a polling booth until the start of next season, which begins in December.

Capital One Arena set a first for a US sports facility last week after William Hill officially opened a sports book at the venue.

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium which is the home ground of the American professional baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers, will also serve as a polling station for the upcoming US presidential election following a partnership between the Major League Baseball team and NBA basketball star LeBron James.

The team has collaborated with James, Dodgers pitcher David Price and national coalition ‘More Than A Vote’ to encourage voter turnout for the November election.

James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, helped set up ‘More Than A Vote’, a non-profit voting-rights coalition of Black athletes and artists that is seeking to fight systemic voter suppression. Price is also part of the group.

Dodger Stadium will be accessible with free parking facilities for any registered voter in Los Angeles County over a five-day period, with operational details to be announced at a later date. Dodger Stadium will become the first MLB venue to open as a polling station for this year’s US presidential elections slated for November 3rd.

Dodgers President and head honcho Stan Kasten noted, “Dodger Stadium is part of the fabric of Los Angeles, and we’re proud to continue to partner with the County to make the property available for the benefit of the community at large. Voting is all of our civic duty, and we’re excited to work with ‘More Than A Vote’ to do anything we can to help get out the vote by making this process as easy, accessible and safe for all Angelenos.”

James added, “I may still be new to LA but it didn’t take long for me to learn how special the relationship is between the Dodgers and Lakers. We are all in this together. I’m really proud we were able to help the Dodgers become the first MLB stadium to open for voting. This is exactly why we created ‘More Than A Vote’. A lot of us now (are) working together and here for every team who wants to follow the Dodgers’ lead and turn their stadium into a safer place for voting.”

It remains to be seen whether the inside or outside of the stadium will be used for ballot stations, but social distancing guidelines will be in place at all times.

While the MLB season was suspended due to COVID-19 which has struck the United States hard, Dodger Stadium was used as a testing site and hosted Los Angeles Unified School District’s virtual graduation. The stadium was also employed as a staging ground for emergency equipment and a food distribution site.

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