Milwaukee Bucks' arena granted approval to be voting location, co-owner Marc Lasry says

Key Points
  • The Milwaukee Bucks' arena will be used as a 2020 election voting site, the team's co-owner, Marc Lasry, told CNBC on Monday. 
  • Lasry said the team received official approval in recent days to use the Fiserv Forum as a polling location. 
  • The Bucks last week initiated a wave of athlete protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Marc Lasry
Cameron Costa | CNBC

The Milwaukee Bucks' arena will be used as a 2020 election voting site, the team's co-owner, Marc Lasry, told CNBC on Monday. 

In an interview on "Halftime Report," Lasry confirmed the team received approvals in the last "24 or 48 hours" to turn the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee into a polling location for the upcoming November election. 

"So I'm happy to say that Fiserv Forum will now be a polling station," Lasry said. 

The Bucks last month announced their willingness to turn the arena into a voting site, an offer that took on increased significance in recent days as the team's players initiated widespread athlete protests over racial injustice. 

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The Bucks now join other NBA teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons in turning arenas into voting locations. The Fiserv Forum will specifically be used as an early voting location. 

Lasry's comments follow the resumption of the NBA playoffs over the weekend after player protests over racial injustice led to a postseason pause. The work stoppage began Wednesday with the Bucks, who were responding to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

The protests then spread across the NBA and other professional sports league, including the WNBA and baseball. 

NBA players weighed whether to continue with the playoffs inside the league's so-called bubble in Florida, which was established as a way to safely finish the season during the coronavirus pandemic. The league had attempted to center racial justice as part its July restart following the death in May of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. 

On Thursday, the players ultimately decided to proceed with the playoffs. A day later, the NBA and the players' union issued a joint statement detailing further commitments to address racial inequality in the U.S., including increasing access to voting by turning some basketball arenas into polling locations. They also agreed to establish a social justice coalition consisting of players, coaches and owners that will work to advance for other reforms. 

Lasry, the billionaire co-founder of Avenue Capital, pushed back on any suggestion that NBA players should avoid organizing and advocating on racial justice simply because it may alienate some people. 

"They have every right. I think LeBron James has 70 million Instagram followers. I have 400," Lasry said. "I think people want to listen to LeBron James." He added, "it's a bit ludicrous to say to people, 'Look, I only want you doing one thing and one thing only.' I respect everybody's right to be able to say and think what they want to." 

Lasry was also asked about White House senior advisor Jared Kushner's comments to CNBC on Thursday that NBA players were "very fortunate" to be able to "take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially." Kushner, the president's son-in-law, also said players need to go "from slogans and signals to actual action that's going to solve the problem."

Lasry, a longtime Democratic donor, rejected Kushner's criticism and implored him to do more in his role working for President Donald Trump. 

"It's great that Jared has an opinion, and I think that's nice," Lasry said. "Jared is in a position of power where he could solve a lot of these issues, so I think ultimately, if he wants those issues solved, he should do it. He knows what the issues are, so I think they can be solved if he and the president want to." 

As the NBA worked to resume its season, Lasry said Michael Jordan emerged as a key figure in the negotiations. Jordan — widely seen as one of the greatest basketball players ever, if not the greatest — is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. 

"I think he's probably uniquely qualified, out of everybody, to be able to speak to players because he was one and to be able to speak to the owners," Lasry said. "I think Michael had great advice for all of us, which was really to listen and pay attention to what people were saying. I think Michael was instrumental in getting a lot of this done." 

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