State Farm Arena opens its doors to 2020 voters

Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

State Farm Arena will host polling stations for voters in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. 

The home of the Atlanta Hawks opening for a voting site came after the NBA and the Players Association announced a plan to use arenas as polling places in the upcoming election. The agreement came following a 72-hour protest from the NBA’s players beginning on the day that Jacob Blake was shot and severely injured as part of an agreement to resume playoff games in the Orlando Bubble. 

The players continue spreading awareness and promoting social change in communities across America. They recently added the “Black Lives Matter” movement to their list of organizations that they sponsor to promote social justice and equality.

State Farm Arena will contribute to the 2020 presidential election by producing a large voter count this month. 

The deadline to register for early voting is Oct. 5, and the arena will open on Oct.12 when early voting begins. Early voting will end on Oct. 30. 

It will be the first time the venue hosts an event since March 11, when the Atlanta Hawks lost to the New York Knicks in overtime. 

“I’m very excited. It feels really good to be able to see a need in the community and be able to have the resources to help solve it,” Atlanta Hawks Director of Marketing, Narcis Alikhani, said. “Our CEO [Steve Koonin] had the idea to turn the arena into a voting precinct, and COVID gives us the unique situation to do that because we have no game or concerts at the moment.” 

Guidelines and rules are in place to protect all guests from COVID-19 while they are voting. The arena has made modifications to accommodate the needs of any guest who may feel they are in danger. 

These modifications include more hand sanitizer stations, floor markers for voters to follow and 300 polling stations to ensure social distancing. 

“Masks are recommended and will be provided if voters do not have one,” Alikhani said. 

The arena will sanitize voting stations regularly, and the venue has an abundance of hand sanitizer, according to Alikhani.

The arena will also provide free parking to ensure that guests can vote and leave as soon as possible. This way, they can have as many early voters as possible throughout the three-week early voting period. 

The staff encourages guests to bring a minimal amount of items to pass through a brief security screening for any weapons or dangerous objects.

While there is no allotted voting time for guests to make their decision, the arena’s staff will be on call to help anyone who might be confused or need directions around the building. Voters will be in and out on time. Phone use is also prohibited while in the voting area. 

There has not yet been word of any other events held at the State Farm Arena, nor whether it will be open for events in the distant future.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons, is also welcoming back fans due to a decrease in COVID-19 related cases in Georgia. Fans will be allowed to attend Atlanta United games and Falcons games in October.