Barclays Center to be used as a polling place during November election

Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo speaks outside the arena on Sep. 1.

Barclays Center will open its doors as a polling location for the 2020 presidential election, according to officials. 

“By having these additional spaces that we can practice social distancing, we will ensure that we have a fair election season,” said Borough President Eric Adams at a Sep. 1 press conference outside the arena. 

The announcement comes as NBA players — who are currently playing playoff games in a “bubble” in Orlando — have used their platform to push for reforms around voting, policing, and social justice. 

The issue boiled over last week, when a cadre of players staged a strike after Wisconsin police officers shot 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake in the back multiple times while his three children looked on. After a two-day postponement, the athletes resumed the season, but have increased their vocal support of causes like the Black Lives Matter movement and voting rights.  

Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the electoral process into flux — with less polling locations and the Trump administration’s push to hamper voting by mail — the players have pressured arena owners to use vacant stadiums as places for citizens to cast their ballots, said the Beep.

“The NBA players — we need to acknowledge what they are doing,” he said. “They are using this opportunity to say part of any agreement to keep moving forward in sports is to ensure that we allow access to voting. The power of the vote can not be over or underemphasized.”

Barclays Center — which has been the site of many protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota — will open for early voting between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1, as well as Election Day on Nov. 3.

Local elected officials encouraged Brooklynites to make use of the space for early voting, which very few New Yorkers did during the last general election in November 2019.

“If we say that Black Lives Matter, the way we truly exercise that belief is by coming here to make sure that you vote,” said Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, whose district encompasses the arena. “The same way people come out to see Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, the same way droves of people come out of that train station to come to a concert here is what we need to see.” 

Barclays Center is the second New York City arena after Madison Square Garden in Manhattan to announce it will become a poll site. BSE Global, the company that manages the Fort Greene arena, said it will encourage its employees to volunteer as poll workers.

“We are proud to be a part of the incredible effort that many NBA arenas have shown to ensure that people exercise their voting power,” said BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi.

Register to vote at vote.nyc

This story first appeared on our sister publication brooklynpaper.com.