BSE Global, Joe Tsai’s holding group for his New York sports properties, and the New York City Board of Elections will hold a press conference Tuesday morning at Barclays Center to make a “major announcement,” presumably involving voting at the Nets arena on Election Day, November 3.
The press conference will include John Abbamondi, the Nets and Barclays Center CEO; Michael Ryan, director of the city board of elections; Brooklyn Boro President Eric Adams and City Council Majority Leader, Laurie Cumbo.
Several NBA teams have already agreed to let their home arenas become polling places in light of the need for large spaces in a time of social distancing and masks.
The New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz have already announced that their arenas will be available as voting locations on November 3. The Los Angeles Clippers which shares the Staples Center with the Lakers, on Friday announced that The Forum, which owner Steve Ballmer bought this summer from Knicks owner James Dolan, will serve as a “vote center” and that people will be able to vote in person or drop off mail-in ballots there from October 24 to November 3.
The Knicks announced their agreement with the BoE on Friday. The arrangement had been in the works for a while, according to reports. The same day, the NBA and NBPA announced a new series of social justice initiatives including a specific commitment on use of NBA arenas as polling places, specifically stating: “owners will work with local officials to turn those arenas into voting locations for the 2020 elections.” The Nets agreement would bring the number of NBA teams participating to 10, a third of the league. Not every NBA team controls its home arena.
The arena’s entrance plaza, where Tuesday’s press conference will be held, was the scene of protests in May and June following the killing of George Floyd at the hands Minneapolis police. The plaza is now bookended by signage containing quotes from Martin Luther King and Angela Davis. City food banks have also used the plaza as a “pop-up pantry” for Brooklyn residents on two occasions since the emergence of COVID-19. In fact, some have called the plaza Brooklyn’s “accidental town square.”
With COVID-19 infections still on the rise around the country, there is concern that voters won’t want to line up in traditional polling places like town halls, schools or fire departments. So larger venues like sports arenas and stadiums have been suggested as an alternative since they can provide larger, safer spaces for voters as well as easy access since many, like Barclays, are located at transportation hubs.
Some have also called for the venues to used to register voters on a mass scale. No indication that’s what will be announced tomorrow.