INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Two days after NBA players from the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic kicked off a postponement of the league’s playoff games by walking out in a strike protesting the shooting of a Black Wisconsin man by law enforcement, the NBA and its players association have agreed to restart the season – again – by partnering on social justice initiatives.
As part of those initiatives, teams will seek to convert their arena properties into voting centers for the 2020 general election on November 3. As such, the Los Angeles Clippers have announced that they will make The Forum in Inglewood available as a voting center, in collaboration with Los Angeles County.
“These commitments follow months of close collaboration designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts said in a joint statement released Friday.
According to the statement, arenas that are owned and controlled by the local NBA franchise will work with local officials to turn the facility into a voting super center designed to offer substantial space for social and physical distancing while voting.
“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-recieving boards,” Silver and Roberts said.
The league and its players have also agreed to create a social justice coalition focused on increasing voting access, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for police and civil justice reform. Ad spots promoting civic engagement and voter awareness will also run during games.
On Aug. 23, 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot at seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as officers were attempting to subdue him.
As Kenosha erupted into protests over the following days, the players of the Milwaukee Bucks voted to not play their Aug. 26 game against the Orlando Magic in protest. The players of the Magic soon followed suit, as did other teams scheduled to play that day. The league then suspended the playoff slate until players and the league could come to an agreement to move forward.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement,” the Bucks players said in a statement. “We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable.”
“We are dedicated to the same cause: fighting voter suppression and empowering all citizens to determine meaningful progress, for this generation and generations to come,” said Gillian Zucker, Clippers President of Business Operations. “Inglewood is the home of the Forum and will soon be the home of the L.A. Clippers. Now, it will also be a home for local voters, to come together and help shape a brighter future.”
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer led a group to purchase The Forum in May. The Clippers are building a new arena in Inglewood.
Voters will be able to vote in person or drop off mail-in ballots at The Forum from Oct. 24 through Nov. 3. The Clippers also announced that fans can visit LAVotersWin.com to learn more about voting by mail or in person, receive ballot information, check their registration status, and register to vote.
The arena voting super center model has already taken root in Los Angeles – Dodger Stadium and LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium have already been announced as voting centers for the election.
According to L.A. County spokersperson Mike Sanchez, officials have been in discussions with pro teams across the county to use their facilities as voting centers.
Those arena stadiums are ideal venues for large voting centers; they have ample power, cell and wi-fi connectivity, accessibility, and large space, Sanchez said. “What we’re doing, strategically, is we’re trying to find locations that, amid the COVID environment, are large enough in scale to allow us to have appropriate social distancing in place."
It helps that sports teams have a brand and a fan base that they can reach directly, as well, he said.
“A partnership like this is good for the entire community,” Sanchez said.
Earlier this month, the L.A. Clippers organization announced a collection of merchandise promoting voter education and social justice reform. All proceeds from the team’s Voters Win collection will benefit the organizations Woke Vote and I Am A Voter.