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WNBA Teams Look for Bigger Arenas When Caitlin Clark Comes to Town
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By Associated Press
Published 4 weeks ago on
May 2, 2024

WNBA teams have started making moves to capitalize on the popularity of Caitlin Clark. Some are booking bigger venues for when Clark and the Indiana Fever come to town. (AP/Darron Cummings)

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WNBA teams have started making moves to capitalize on the popularity of Caitlin Clark. Some are booking bigger venues for when Clark and the Indiana Fever come to town.

The Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have moved their games against the Fever to bigger arenas. The numbers Clark generated in college indicates it’s a smart move.

While at Iowa, when the No. 1 pick in the draft and the Hawkeyes went on the road this past season, they played in front of sellout crowds or set attendance records.

Clark’s Impact on Ticket Sales

“She helps ticket sales, so I think it’s a really great time to have eyes. She’s going to be an elite player,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “She has been in college. She’s done stuff in college that nobody else has. She’s going to be a great player in the W. There’s no doubt about it.

“So the more people we can pack into the building to cheer against her, we’ll take it, although I don’t know if they’ll be cheering against her,” Hammon quipped. “I guess they might be cheering for her.”

The two-time reigning WNBA champion Aces relocated their game on May 25 from the 12,000-seat Michelob Ultra Arena to the 18,000-seat T-Mobile Arena.

Aces players credit Clark, but also know that their own team, which has won the past two WNBA championships, has done a great job increasing attendance at games over the past few seasons.

Other Teams’ Reactions

“We’re not rolling out any red carpet. We’re here to be a business and sell a lot of tickets. Kudos to her (Clark), but we also have done that in previous years in big games as well,” Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum said. “There are a lot of people that play basketball. People are coming to watch A’ja Wilson. People are going to watch Chelsea Gray.

“That’s not a slight on anyone, but I’m saying that’s not for her. We played in Chicago last year. We sold it out last year.”

Clark will make her preseason debut on Friday night at Dallas — a game that is already sold out.

The Mystics game against Indiana on June 7 will be played at Capital One Arena — Washington’s old home. Their normal home, the Entertainment and Sports Arena, can seat up to 4,200 fans, but the Capital One Arena has a maximum basketball capacity of more than 20,000.

Nearly half of WNBA teams play in NBA arenas, so there’s no need to move those games.

Other Teams Considering Larger Arenas

Still, a few others that don’t are feeling a push to move games to larger arenas, including the Chicago Sky. The Sky and Angel Reese play their home games in the 10,000-seat Wintrust Arena. Fans started a petition to move their first home game against Indiana to the bigger United Center. There’s a concert scheduled at that arena on June 23 when the Fever come to town — so that’s not going to happen.

The Los Angeles Sparks are another team that could move their game against Indiana.

The Sparks are playing their first five home games at Long Beach because of arena conflicts from construction and the NBA and NHL playoffs. They are hosting the Fever on May 24, which is scheduled to be played at Long Beach. The team’s first five games will be played there in a 4,000-seat arena.

The Sparks have played games in the past at USC and there’s always a chance they could move the Indiana game there. The Sparks said they have nothing official to report when asked about moving the game.

The Atlanta Dream, who also play in a smaller venue that seats only 3,500, host Clark and the Fever on June 21. The team hasn’t said whether it’s exploring trying to move to a bigger arena yet.

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