The Atlanta Hawks basketball team announced on Monday that its home venue, the State Farm Arena, will be transformed into the “largest-ever voting precinct” in the state of Georgia later this year.
“We are proud to partner with Fulton County to give all registered Fulton County residents the ability to vote early at our home,” the team tweeted on Monday afternoon.
Starting on July 20, State Farm Arena will become Georgia’s largest-ever voting precinct.
We are proud to partner with Fulton County to give all registered Fulton County residents the ability to vote early at our home.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 29, 2020
According to NBA.com, the stadium will be opened as a precinct in time for early voting in late July ahead of the runoff election later in August.
The site reported that the venue, which is 700,000 square-feet, will also be used by the Fulton County Registration and Elections to process absentee ballots and to count votes.
Steve Koonin, CEO of the team, reportedly came up with the idea to transform the stadium into a voting precinct after being inspired by recent protests against racism and police brutality that have rippled through country over the past few weeks following the police killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and more African Americans.
“Let your voice be heard..get out to vote,” Koonin said shortly after the announcement on Monday. “We look forward to welcoming Fulton County voters to State Farm Arena.”
Let your voice be heard..get out to vote. We look forward to welcoming Fulton County voters to State Farm Arena https://t.co/1loKZE94RM
— Steve Koonin (@SteveKoonin) June 29, 2020
Koonin also provided more detail behind how the stadium would operate as a precinct in the county, where allegations of voter suppression exploded during the 2018 midterms, in the weeks leading up to the coming presidential election.
“In October, we will provide a spacious and safe and secure environment that will be good for social distancing. We will be able to stagger according to CDC regulations. We’ll keep people moving through quickly. All staff will be in masks and there will be hand sanitizers throughout the building. This is not a library. This is a giant building with great connectivity,” he said in a statement to NBA.com.
“We aim to be a community asset, and in order to fulfill that goal, we need to be more than just a basketball team,” Koonin continued.
Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts told the site the venue will “be a super duper location for Fulton County, and in fact will become our election central.”
“This addition of State Farm Arena as an early voting location will enhance the voting experience of our citizens. We will go from the proverbial `worst’ to first in November as a result of this collaboration,” he added.