The Fulton County Registration and Elections Board in Georgia recently approved a plan submitted by the Atlanta Hawks pro basketball franchise to donate their arena to create the state’s largest-ever voting precinct—one that will keep people socially-distant while whisking them through the process.
The State Farm Arena will accommodate voters beginning with a runoff primary election to determine final party candidates on August 11, and for a second time during the General presidential election on Nov 3rd.
According to a report from ESPN, the NBA team and arena’s owner Tony Ressler wondered how they could offer support to the city of Atlanta after the Black Lives Matter protests began downtown.
“When our ownership group purchased the Hawks & State Farm Arena five years ago, we were clear that we felt it was our responsibility to make sure the organization was an important civic asset to the city of Atlanta,” said Ressler in a press release. “Utilizing State Farm Arena and our incredible staff to make it an accessible and vital polling site in an important election year is a fulfillment on that promise.”
A large facility packed with staff, open spaces, suite rooms, and more, would be a perfect place to host large numbers of voters, especially if COVID-19 measures still require social distancing, masks, and sanitation of public places.
Elections that have taken place since the pandemic started have required that voting machines, normally placed within inches of one another, be spread 6 feet or more apart, but the large basketball court, concourses, and spare rooms will go a long way to making the process much easier.
“State Farm Arena is an ideal solution to help us serve thousands of voters while maintaining social distancing requirements,” said Mary Carole Cooney, chairperson of the county’s election board. “We appreciate the Hawks for coming to us with this creative solution.”
“It took me about a nanosecond to understand what a big deal that would be for us here in Fulton County running this upcoming election, given the challenges that we had,” Robb Pitts, chairman of the county board of commissioners, told ESPN.
“Tony Ressler, Steve Koonin and their organization have once again demonstrated that the Hawks are True to Atlanta,” added Pitts.
The Hawks will also be paying for 300 full time faculty workers for assistance on election days, saving the municipality thousands, and are opening parking lots for those using the venue to vote.
Another advantage is that State Farm Arena is conveniently located just feet away from the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN MARTA station on Georgia’s mass transit system.
The station is located on the Green/Blue (East/West) lines. If traveling from the North or South, you will need to transfer at Five Points Station onto a Westbound train. Once you get to the Dome station, simply follow the signs to State Farm Arena.
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