In the recent discussions between athletes and the owners in their respective sports, the idea of using arenas as polling places has been discussed. The NBA agreed to do this as part of an agreement with players stemming from their decision not to play their playoff games last week.
Here in Philadelphia, the Wells Fargo Center is not owned by the Sixers, but Comcast-Spectacor, who today sent out a joint press release announcing that the multipurpose facility would indeed be offered up for “election activities” in November:
Philadelphia, Pa. (September 1, 2020) – Comcast Spectacor and Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment today announced that Comcast Spectacor, owner and operator of the Wells Fargo Center (WFC), has offered use of the arena to the City of Philadelphia for election activities related to the general election to be held in November of 2020.
The Wells Fargo Center, home to both the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers, will be available to the City for such use as the City deems appropriate consistent with the requirements of applicable State and local election laws.
According to Valerie Camillo, President of Business Operations of the Flyers and the WFC, “In the face of the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, both our organization and the 76ers are pleased to be able to support the City of Philadelphia in its efforts to ensure full, fair, safe and secure voter participation in this fall’s election. We applaud the NBA and the 76ers for their advocacy around this issue and are pleased to be able to make our facility available consistent with the City’s needs.”
Chris Heck, 76ers President: “We thank our great partner, Comcast Spectacor, and the Philadelphia Flyers for their efforts in ensuring that the Wells Fargo Center is available to serve as a place where the Philadelphia community can safely exercise their right to vote. The 76ers will continue to advocate for increased access to voting and use our platform to do good in our communities.”
This puts the ball in the City’s court, who then decides what they’d like to do. Philadelphia has a group of three commissioners who oversee the voting process, along with 127 pages of officials who are part of the election board. There are a bunch of resources at Philadelphiavotes.com, including a tool that lets you look up your polling place. I typed in the address of a cheesesteak spot in South Philly and it gave me this:
Obviously it’s a business and not a residential address, but you see how they block off these wards and divisions. The Wells Fargo Center would serve nicely as a large and accessible place for South Philly residents to vote.
We’ll see what what the city decides to do here. I think it would probably look bad if Comcast and HBSE offered this up, as a result of the social justice movement, and then Philadelphia ended up not acting on the offer. But logistically it might be complicated, so this seems a little more involved than simply saying, “hey you can borrow the arena.”
Edit – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Eagles here:
“We have a very important election coming up on November 3rd, and one of the things we've offered to do is to open up Lincoln Financial Field to be a polling place if needed.” – Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie pic.twitter.com/idH0rDYyYR
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 31, 2020