SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County leaders officially announced Wednesday that the AT&T Center will serve as a voting site during the upcoming election cycle, including early voting days from Oct. 13-30 and Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“As stewards of the AT&T Center, it was important for our organization to pursue this opportunity and collaborate with the county for safe voting locations in our community,” said Spurs Sports & Entertainment CEO RC Buford. “We firmly believe that voting is one of the most important and effective steps towards achieving equity for all."
Bexar County Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez spoke with KSAT last week about what the transformation of the Spurs home arena to a mega polling site would possibly entail.
“We had conversations with the Spurs and their general counsel going back to probably May,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the key discussions surrounding the use of the East Side arena came down to voter access, maximizing space inside the facility and keeping residents as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the first time the AT&T Center has been utilized for voting in a general election.
The 13,725 square foot space on the Plaza Level concourse will allow for a larger voter turnout and allow social distancing guidelines to continue.
“This is going to be a historic turnout election,” said Rodriguez. “We know there’s a general level of interest that’s probably above the norm. That coupled with the pandemic, we’ve never had a general election or a significant election in a COVID-19 environment.”
Rodriguez said last week there would be no shortage of personal protective equipment inside the arena for voters and election workers.
He also expected several voting machines to be available. The AT&T Center was one of four proposed mega voting sites in Bexar County.
“The concept was ’let’s look for larger facilities with good air circulation.’ The idea of putting 50 or 75 voting machines in each mega centers, making sure they have accessible parking and ADA access,” said Rodriguez. “Bus line access is another thing. We want to make sure that is occurring.”
Rodriguez said Spurs Sports and Entertainment had offered to keep the arena open for extended voting hours and possibly have help from some of their employees.
“They are ultimately always about community and they are always about making sure, particularly people are engaged in civic awareness,” said Rodriguez. “I give credit to the Spurs, their ownership and management. They were very proactive in this instance.”
“We’re proud that the AT&T Center has always been a place where the community comes together and it’s now a privilege to be able to turn it into a safe space where all voices can be heard,” said Buford.
The county has been pushing for more innovative ways to reach voters as part of its SMART Elections Initiative, which stands for safe, modern, accessible, reliable and transparent.
With the AT&T Center and Spurs officially on board, Rodriguez has said the county hopes to reach more underserved communities.
“We know the history of voter disenfranchisement in our community, not just here, but everywhere,” said Rodriguez. “The better access we have, the more we get the word out, the more polls we have available, the longer hours we have. It gives everyone an opportunity to get out and express their voice.”
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