Barclays Center to Host Massive Polling Place for General Election


The Barclays Center yesterday gave a home-court advantage to Brooklyn voters.

That comes after Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights), in partnership with Executive Director of the New York City Board of Elections Michael Ryan and BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi announced yesterday – on National Poll Worker Recruitment Day – that the stadium home of the Brooklyn Nets will be utilized as a polling place for the general election in November.

The massive site can reportedly host thousands of voters for early voting from October 24 to November 1, and on Election Day, November 3, to allow compliance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) safety guidelines indoors and to stave off any complications that may arise from other sites, mail-in and absentee ballot voting

“Voting rights are under attack in this country,” said Cumbo at a press conference held in the stadium’s central outside plaza. “As a global pandemic threatens our ability to safely access the polls, and we have executive leadership whose continued attempts to suppress voters threaten the future of our democracy, it is up to local governments and leadership to innovate and ensure equal voting opportunities. Casting your ballot in person should be as simple as hopping on a train.”  

The elected officials also made a plea for more poll workers, and hoped to rally people to become paid workers for the general election.

From left are Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo and BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi. Photo by Ariama C. Long

Ryan said that it’s always a difficult challenge to staff polls and establish sites for administrators nationally. He said the assistance from Barclays will “boost” already stretched polling managers who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic.

“I am so pleased that Barclays Center has stepped up in such a crucial election,” said Ryan. “The more options voters have, the smoother and safer the voting process becomes, especially in what is still a uniquely trying time for the city.” 

BSE Global, the parent company for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, said it will be providing poll workers opportunities for its employees in response to the staffing shortage. Employees are offered a full paid day off to staff a polling site, said Abbamondi.

“We’re proud of the incredible effort, led in fact by our own NBA players, that we’ve been able to make across the NBA to have our arenas be voting centers throughout the country,” said Abbamondi. “Our community as we all know has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. And I’d say, perhaps among it’s less important aspects, has been the shuttering of this building for the past five months or so. COVID-19 has also given us a chance to serve our community in ways that hadn’t been possible before.”

Throughout the COVID-19 and racial injustice crises and protests in the city, state, and nation, Barclays’ plaza has been a nerve center for numerous activists and demonstrations.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also said places like the Barclays Center could also be utilized as a social distancing school. Photo by Ariama C. Long

“This is a very significant moment for all of us as we navigate the challenges due to COVID-19 and how do we ensure a fair election process,” said Adams, recounting the packed plaza of protesters and dealing with COVID. “America is unique in the transformation of power. We use the ballot and not bullets. We use our opportunity to be creative and continue to reform and modify our system as we ensure who’s going to be the leader of this great country.”

Adams also remarked that it would be a good idea to convert the arena and other unconventional spaces into viable options for school reopenings. His statement on this issue came on the same day the city announced a two-week delay of in-person school reopenings among threats of a teachers’ union strike.

“I think we have to look at all the spaces that are available that are not being utilized now. Any creative way that we can make that happen, Barclays, movie theaters,” said Adams. “One thing we have to be clear on, our children did not receive an education at the end of the school year. We have to be honest about it, let’s stop pretending as though every child was educated, and I’m concerned that we didn’t spend the entire summer being properly prepared, so wherever spaces are available for use I think we should use them. We must make sure our children receive a quality education. This can’t be a continuation of failure.”

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