Atlanta Hawks opening up their arena as a massive early voting site

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The Atlanta Hawks are going beyond basketball by offering their arena as an early voting site for Georgia’s upcoming elections and are challenging other NBA teams to follow their lead.

On Monday, leadership from the Hawks and Fulton County held a press conference to announce that not only will the arena be a voting site, but that hundreds of State Farm Arena staff will be trained as volunteer poll workers, NPR reported.

“We aim to be a community asset, and in order to fulfill that goal, we need to be more than just a basketball team,” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said, NPR reported. “We’ll utilize our arena for all aspects of voting.”

The official Hawks Twitter account also announced it Monday afternoon.

“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. Utilizing State Farm Arena and our incredible staff to make the arena an accessible and vital polling site in an important election year is a fulfillment on that promise,” Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena Principal Owner Tony Ressler said in a statement.

Voters in Georgia experienced long lines and voting machine problems in the June 9 primary, NPR reported. The Hawks are looking to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself.

“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 Fulton County Board of Registration & Elections, in the statement. “We appreciate the Hawks for coming to us with this creative solution.”

The 700,000-square-foot arena can fit 16,000 people for basketball games and up to 21,000 for concerts but will be repurposed for voting machines spaced throughout the floor.

The Hawks Foundation also will provide free parking to voters around the arena, the statement said.