The home of the Orlando Magic will be open for early voting this election season as teams around the league try to urge fans and citizens to vote.
When the Orlando Magic got off the bus to check in to The Grand Floridian on the NBA campus at Disney, they were all wearing the same shirt with a simple message:
“Get off the bench. Get into the game. Vote.”
Players and teams around the league wanted to make sure messages of social justice and civic engagement were front and center when they restarted the league. That has been something the players have continued to highlight.
When the players decided to sit out Game 5 of the team’s first-round series to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., part of their goal was to demand more concrete action from teams and team governors.
The three-prong plan they came up with was short on details. The players had the governors agree to form a social justice coalition with player representatives to explore actions down the road. The insertion of more ads during the broadcast highlighting civic engagement and social justice will keep it front and center.
The only concrete action they demanded at that moment was for team governors to turn arenas where possible into polling centers for the upcoming election.
The Magic have joined a growing number of teams that will be making their arena available for early voting from Oct. 19-Nov. 1.
The Magic said they will also be conducting a voter registration drive at the arena on Sept. 22 as part of National Voter Registration Day.
Both events will take place inside the Disney Atrium, the entranceway where fans enter the building form Church Street (WWE is currently occupying the arena bowl through the end of October).
The Magic centered much of their focus on voting rights. The team and players have spoken with Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Coach Steve Clifford referenced their discussions on several occasions throughout the course of the resumed season.
He said the team was already in discussions with Orange County and the City of Orlando to try to turn the Amway Center into an early voting center before last week’s stoppage. Now nearly half the league will open their arenas to voting for November’s election.
It was a big part of the Magic’s social justice messaging as they returned to play. It is still the biggest statement they have made, even as they do work in other areas.
At the event announcing this Wednesday were coach Steve Clifford, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman, CEO Alex Martins and second-year center Mohamed Bamba.
Bamba released a video to urge residents to register to vote and be part of this. He said he will be a volunteer poll worker for those coming to the Amway Center to cast their ballot:
This is an important first step and a great use of the city-owned facility. The Magic are still determining further action they can take to impact the community and support social justice issues. Michael Carter-Williams has continued some advocacy on social media since the team returned from the campus.
At the very least, Bamba is right that voting is one of the most impactful things a person can do to shape their community and be involved in their democracy. This is the messaging that many around the league are trying to get at.
If you want to impact your community, voting is a good first step to bring that change and shape the world you want to live in.
The Amway Center will be a part of that this October for early voting. The Magic are helping get feet on the ground to help with change.