For California sports fans, walking through the doors of the Staples Center or Levi’s Stadium isn’t an option this year. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local health departments barred fans across the country from attending games.
But this November, counties and teams across California are allowing access to stadiums again – this time to vote.
In Oakland, this is the first election where teams have offered up their spaces to accommodate voters, according to Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis. The Oakland Athletics and Golden State Warriors, two teams inside county lines, have provided indoor and outdoor spaces to allow for in-person, curbside and drive-through vote stations.
“We’d like to see our voters look at all the options that we’ve made available to them and have them choose the one that’s going to make them feel safe,” said Dupuis.
Sports arenas make up just two of the 100 sites voters can visit in Alameda County. But the benefits of the Coliseum or Oakland Arena go beyond just additional space.
‘Ideal voting locations’
“They’re actually in some ways ideal voting locations,” said David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research. He notes that arenas also offer good ventilation, reliable sources of power, accessibility for voters with disabilities and close proximity to public transportation routes.
Outside of Alameda County, a national push for opening more sporting arenas has gained traction. During the recent NBA season, the league and the players association formed a social justice coalition with a stated commitment to open arenas as voting sites. The Elections Super Centers Project, co-chaired by public policy advocates Eugene Jarecki and Amber McReynolds, is a nonpartisan organization working with athletes and celebrities to achieve that goal.
“The arenas have the opportunity to serve the American people and serve the American voter,” said Jarecki. “They can enable people to vote safely with social distancing without the danger of long lines. These super centers are just supplemental voting sites to take pressure off the existing infrastructure.”
12 arena voting sites in state
The project has organized more than 60 arena voting sites, 12 of them in California. The Golden State Warriors alone are offering up three different team locations in Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Cruz to serve as voting sites.
“What I’m seeing is that the community is just coming out, whether it’s the sporting teams, or whether it’s the community itself, and engaging in this election and wanting to help out,” said Dupuis.
Many sports arena sites will be open for multiple days before the Nov. 3 election. Below is a list of the stadiums and teams that will open their doors to voters:
- Oakland Coliseum – Oakland Athletics [source]
- Levi’s Stadium – San Francisco 49ers [source]
- Oakland practice facility – Golden State Warriors [source]
- Chase Arena area – Golden State Warriors [source]
- Oakland Arena – Golden State Warriors [source]
- Golden 1 Center – Sacramento Kings [source]
- The Forum – Los Angeles Clippers [source]
- Staples Center – Los Angeles Lakers/Sparks + LA Kings [source]
- SAP Center – San Jose Sharks [source]
- Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers [source]
- Honda Center – Anaheim Ducks [source]
- SoFi Stadium – LA Rams + LA Chargers [source]
- Banc of California – LAFC [source]
* Zachary Fletcher is a reporter at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
* This coverage is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. In California, CalMatters is hosting the collaboration with the Fresno Bee, the Long Beach Post and the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Project.
CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.