TAMPA —There will be more than footballs flying around Raymond James Stadium next month.
The home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the University of South Florida Bulls football teams also will be an early voting site for the upcoming general election, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer announced Tuesday.
The partnership among the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Sports Authority and Latimer’s office follows news last week that Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, also would be an early-voting location for the 2020 general election.
Both buildings are owned by Hillsborough County and managed by the sports authority.
The stadium brings the number of early voting locations in Hillsborough County to 26, Latimer said. Early voting begins Oct. 19 and continues through Nov. 1.
“I’ve always said that elections are a community project, and what we’re seeing this election is that we have wonderful community support,” Latimer said in a released statement. “This partnership with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Sports Authority is about more than just space. It’s about communicating with our citizens that voting is important.”
Nationally, there has been a push for sports arenas to be made available as polling locations, particularly as some states have seen large numbers of polling place closures amid the coronavirus pandemic. Given their size, the arenas and stadiums may be attractive options for their ability to provide social distancing and accommodate large numbers of voters, although other considerations such as their locations and proximity to public transportation are also considerations.
The National Basketball Association also has announced plans to make its arenas available for polling sites.
In a released statement, both Eric Hart, president/CEO of the Tampa Sports Authority and Brian Ford, chief operating officer for the Buccaneers, touted the stadium partnership.
Ford said the team was thrilled to join the effort "to ensure that every citizen in Hillsborough County has the ability to participate in early voting at Raymond James Stadium. Increasing voter registration and participation is an essential part of our player-led social justice initiative and we look forward to playing a vital role in helping our community exercise its right to vote.”
Early voting allows people who want to vote in person the ability to choose the time and location that is most convenient to them, rather than waiting until Election Day on Nov. 3.