Sports venues across country in play on Election Day

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Poll volunteers work inside Ford Field, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Detroit. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said "I'm grateful for our sports partners in Detroit," Benson said Tuesday night at the home of the Detroit Lions. "They really led the way for sports teams across the country to play a critical role in providing the resources we needed to run the election successfully this year. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

DETROIT – Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson cast her vote at the Detroit Pistons’ training facility. About 12 hours later, she saw metal boxes on wheels with ballots inside roll into Ford Field for double checking.

“I'm grateful for our sports partners in Detroit," Benson said Tuesday night at the home of the Lions. “They really led the way for sports teams across the country to play a critical role in providing the resources we needed to run the election successfully this year.

“It is something that I hope will continue in the years ahead and really underscores the work that went into today, which was truly a team effort.”

The coronavirus pandemic put stresses on the general election, so professional sports teams stepped up to offer their stadiums, arenas and practice facilities as socially distant spaces to vote and conduct other election-related activities.

Twenty-plus NBA teams and half of the NFL's 32 franchises provided a place for people to vote or assisted with the process in other ways. Meanwhile, many Major League Baseball and NHL teams also put their stadiums and arenas in play on Election Day.

“This is a shining moment to have sports teams all over the country making a commitment to help people vote because that's the most important non-violent tool in our democracy," Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem said after he and Detroit coach Dwane Casey watched Benson put her ballot in a drop box steps from the entrance to the team’s training facility. “Sports teams bring people together from all backgrounds and at their best, inspire us and encourage us to unite."

Before returning to Sacramento, California, on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom greeted and thanked poll workers at the Golden State Warriors’ facility in downtown Oakland.

“Three things in the world that really bring people together — music, food and sports," Warriors guard Damion Lee said after beating Newsom in a “PIG" shooting game. “For us to use our platform, for the Warriors to open up their facility — that’s the true sense of democracy.”