WNBA teams see increase in ticket sales after Caitlin Clark announces plans to enter draft

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) points after an Iowa basket scored during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) points after an Iowa basket scored during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

NEW YORK (AP) — Soon after Caitlin Clark announced her plans to enter the WNBA draft, the Indiana Fever’s ticket offices got noticeably busier.

“We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm online and on social media,” Pacers Sports and Entertainment said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The organization has also seen the enthusiasm lead to a spike in ticket inquiries.”

The Fever wouldn’t disclose how many tickets they’ve sold. Still, getting Iowa star Clark with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft would be a boost to the franchise, which was second-to-last in attendance last season, averaging 4,067 fans at home games.

“It’s Clarkonomics,” basketball analyst Deb Antonelli said. “Her ability to move the meter and the excitement around her is incredible. The socially acceptable thing to do is to watch Caitlin Clark play basketball.”

Antonelli worked for the Fever for 18 years and thinks the only thing that’s resembled the excitement around Clark being drafted No. 1 was the team’s run to the WNBA title in 2012.

Clark has set numerous records this season as a senior for the Hawkeyes and is on the verge of becoming the top-scoring player in men’s or women’s NCAA history. She has driven interest in women’s basketball to unprecedented levels with her deep 3-pointers and ballhandling skills.

The draft is on April 15, and the Fever hinted in a social media post that they plan to select her.

It wasn’t just in Indiana where fans were trying to get tickets. In Connecticut, nearly 800 tickets were sold in 24 hours for the Sun’s May 14 season opener against the Fever. That equaled the amount of individual tickets sold for the game up to that point, excluding the team’s 2,500 season-ticket holders.

“We typically have bumps in our ticket sales for league rivals, reigning champions and of course when former Huskies come to town,” Connecticut Sun President Jennifer Rizzotti told the AP. “This may be the first time that a non-UConn player has drawn this type of interest from our fan base. We understand the anticipation is that Caitlin will be on the Indiana roster and it’s amazing to witness the excitement the last 24 hours surrounding her first WNBA game here in Connecticut.”

Many WNBA teams don’t have individual game tickets on sale yet, but they can expect strong sales for Fever games. Clark and Iowa have sold out nearly all their road games the past two seasons. Tickets for her regular-season home finale against No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday were among the priciest in women’s college basketball history.

“I’ve never seen a player with this impact on the road or on the ratings,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. “The first year of the league there was hype around Lisa (Leslie), Sheryl (Swoopes) and me with a lot of commercials, but there wasn’t the hype where people could watch us play like there has been with Caitlin.”

Las Vegas, which led the league in attendance last year and already has surpassed 8,000 season tickets, sold an additional 300 since Clark made her announcement.

ESPN hasn’t announced its broadcast schedule yet and the network showed only one Indiana game last season. Expect that number to rise this year. Six networks had record viewership for Clark’s games over the last two years.

___

AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

Sports Headlines

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed AP

Trending on NewsNation