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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Attendance at WNBA games is soaring, and it’s not solely due to Caitlin Clark.

The WNBA has seen an unprecedented surge in attendance this May, marking a generational high, according to a league announcement on Monday. This surge, which has witnessed an astonishing 156% increase from 2023, is attributed, in part, to the remarkable performance of rookie sensation Caitlin Clark.

Clark, the former standout from the University of Iowa and the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history, has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in driving this spike in attendance.

The presence of the Fever, Clark’s team, in any arena has resulted in remarkable ticket sales. Notably, the New York Liberty experienced remarkable turnouts of 17,735 and 17,401 during the Fever’s visits to Barclays Center on May 18 and June 2, respectively. These two games significantly contributed to the Liberty’s overall home attendance average, which soared to an impressive 12,586.

Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever looks to pass against the Connecticut Sun on Monday.

However, even in the absence of these two Fever games, the Liberty’s non-Clark attendance still stands at an average of 10,593 for five dates. This is a stark contrast to their average crowd of 7,247 in their first five home dates of 2023, before Clark joined the league.

Similarly, in Connecticut, a state synonymous with women’s basketball due to the unparalleled success of UConn, the Sun have seen a substantial increase in attendance. The team has averaged 6,901 ticket buyers through eight home games, bolstered by two sellouts of 8,910 during Clark’s WNBA debut on May 14 and another sellout on Monday night.

Even excluding these two Clark-driven sellouts, the Sun still averaged 6,901 in six games without the Fever this year, marking a significant rise from 2023 when the team averaged 5,201 fans through six home games.

Jonquel Jones of the New York Liberty shoots a 3-pointer Sunday against the Washington Mystics in Brooklyn.

Colie Edison, the Chief Growth Officer of the WNBA, emphasized the league’s sustained growth and the increasing engagement across various demographics. She highlighted the league’s ability to attract new and diverse audiences, citing it as a testament to the growing demand for women’s sports and the valuable investment they represent.

In addition to Clark, the WNBA has also benefited from the presence of other high-profile rookies in the 2024 class, such as Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky and Cameron Brink of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Both the Sky and the Sparks have witnessed significant increases in attendance this season. The Sky, yet to host a Fever game, have drawn an average of 8,364 through five home dates, compared to 6,411 at the same point in 2023.

The Sparks faced logistical challenges at the beginning of the season, playing their first two home games at the smaller Walter Pyramid in Long Beach before returning to Crypto.com Arena. Despite this, their first game back in Los Angeles against Clark’s Fever drew a star-studded crowd of 19,103. Subsequent home games at Crypto.com Arena have seen an average attendance of 10,265, a notable increase from the average crowds of 7,501 during the first four home dates of 2023.

Nicolette Aduama, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, emphasized that the WNBA’s success this season is not solely attributed to one player. She highlighted the combined talent of players like Caitlin and Angel Reese, which has generated significant interest in women’s basketball and sports overall.

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