Heat upset arena rejected as polling place

The Miami Heat expressed disappointment on social media that their home arena was rejected as a polling place site for November’s general election, while a number of other NBA cities have welcomed an identical plan.

In a proposal that was galvanized by the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James earlier this summer, the idea was to make NBA arenas mega polling locations in order to allow as many registered voters to cast a ballot as possible -- and to do so with safe social distancing.

Among the cities taking up their teams on the plan are Atlanta, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C.

Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez turned down the Heat’s offer to use AmericanAirlines Arena and made the decision to use the smaller Frost Science Museum. Gimenez is on the November ballot as a Republican candidate for Congress.

The Heat responded to the decision with a lengthy statement on Twitter, saying they did everything to show the viability of the arena as a polling place, with the hope that it could continue to serve in that capacity in future years.

“To say we are disappointed is a huge understatement,” the Heat’s post read, in part. “The Arena is clearly a better site, with more visibility, more space and more parking. But to the extent that forces involved in making this decision think this will quiet our voice on the critical importance of voting, they should know that we will not be deterred.”

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra also made his disappointment known.

“It’s a little bit of a surprise,” Spoelstra told reporters before the Heat’s Game 3 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. “We thought that we were on the goal line to be able to get it done, and we had really worked with the county to check all the boxes that they seemingly wanted checked. It would have been a perfect place.

“But I will promise you this: This is not going to stop us. We’re going to get involved one way or the other. We’re just going to strategize, recalibrate, figure out what step we can take from here. That’s with or without the county. It’s just really disappointing that that’s the decision they made.”

--Field Level Media