This article appeared in the August 19, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Dodger Stadium: The new intersection of sports and democracy

Jae C. Hong/AP
A general view of Angel Stadium before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 14, 2020, in Anaheim, California.

The pandemic is challenging us to think creatively. 

Let’s take the problem of social distancing while voting. The mail-in ballot is one solution. But here’s another that’s gathering momentum. 

At least 10 professional sports teams in the U.S. are turning their big, vacant arenas into places to vote. The Election Super Centers Project has enlisted four NBA teams, two NHL teams, one MLB team, and one NFL team so far, Politico reports. A separate effort led by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James’ new voting rights group just forged an agreement to use Dodger Stadium as a 2020 polling venue. 

Many stadiums are already expanding their business models. Sports architect Matt Rossetti says increasingly, office space, retail shops, and movie theaters are built adjacent to sports venues. “There should be civic uses (too),” he tells The Athletic. “No reason not to have a fire station or police station or daycare or teaching facilities (inside the building), so they become more part of a community. ...”

And we have seen sports venues lately reimagining their roles. The Pawtucket Red Sox created Dining on the Diamond, a restaurant in the outfield. In April, Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena was transformed into a field hospital. 

Using these sports cathedrals – often the largest structures in a city – as a place to exercise our democratic rights on Nov. 3 makes a statement about our values. And wouldn’t it be cool to take an “I voted” selfie next to the Fenway Park Green Monster?

This article appeared in the August 19, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/19 edition
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