WNBA Ticket Sales Skyrocket as Caitlin Clark Joins the League

Sports WNBA
WNBA Ticket Sales Skyrocket as Caitlin Clark Joins the League

Coming off an NCAA tournament run which set all kinds of viewership records, the WNBA Draft’s number one overall pick, Caitlin Clark, is driving a dramatic increase in ticket sales.

This is not just a Caitlin Clark story. The rise in the popularity of women’s basketball has been occurring since well before Clark stepped foot on campus at the University of Iowa. This isn’t even just a basketball story either, as demonstrated by the University of Nebraska hosting a staggering 92,000 people for a women’s volleyball game in August, breaking the Memorial Stadium attendance record set in 2014 by the state’s civic religion that is the Nebraska football program.

View from a jet flying over Memorial Stadium in Nebraska with 92,000 fans watching a women's volleyball game below

Photo by The National Guard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s not even just a story confined to women’s sports, as demonstrated by the rise of a litany of niche sports like F1 to the mainstream. The most clicked-on post in new Splinter‘s short history is Dan Robitzski’s excellent story about the crazy Olympic fencing match fixing scandal. Sports consumption habits are changing.

And women’s sports are becoming the primary beneficiary of it. Last year’s WNBA season was its most-watched in 21 years by any measure you want to look at, whether it’s ticket sales, viewership or digital engagement. As I wrote in my article about Hall of Fame coach and player Dawn Staley saying that transgender women should play women’s sports, “To say women’s sports are having a moment is a total misunderstanding of the viewership data coming out of this season. This is a sea change, this moment is just where we can confirm it.”

Clark is still a huge part of this story and the sun at the center of its present orbit. Her games against LSU and their star Angel Reese captivated America’s attention unlike any rivalry in men’s or women’s basketball in the past decade. Basketball is a sport that rotates around its megastars, and Clark is walking into the WNBA as its biggest draw in her rookie season for the Indiana Fever.

According to Sportscasting’s data, WNBA ticket prices for games against Clark’s Fever are going for 241 percent more on the secondary market than these teams’ subsequent games against squads that do not employ Caitlin Clark.

She made her WNBA debut on Tuesday night, scoring 20 points in a 92-71 loss at the Connecticut Sun where the “get-in price” (the cheapest ticket) was $74, a nice 469 percent increase over the Sun’s next game where it costs just $13 to get in. This Saturday afternoon, Clark’s Fever will play a nationally televised game on ABC against the New York Liberty, and the get-in price for that game is $84, up over 300 percent against the next Liberty home game.

The most highly anticipated game of Clark’s nascent WNBA career comes next Saturday May 25th, as Indiana will play the defending back-to-back champion Las Vegas Aces. On Tickpick, the get-in price right now to that game is $141, while Las Vegas’s next home game against the Seattle Storm costs just $7 to attend, over a 1,900 percent increase.

Today, the Atlanta Dream announced that they would be moving their two regular season home games against the Fever out of their 3,500 seat Gateway Center Arena and to the State Farm Arena where the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks play, which seats 17,000 people. The Dream’s largest crowd in franchise history is 11,609 for their inaugural game in 2008, and they are hoping that both games against Caitlin Clark will eclipse that figure.

Total WNBA ticket sales are up 93 percent over last year according to Stubhub, with searches for the Indiana Fever up 1,500 percent from last season. Caitlin Clark is definitely the catalyst for this jump in WNBA profits, but she is simply just accelerating a train forward that already had a fair amount of momentum. Anyone characterizing this increased interest as solely the result of one rookie whose game reminds everyone of Kobe must have missed shooting god Sabrina Ionescu captivating the NBA’s All-Star weekend by going toe to toe with Steph freaking Curry.

The Las Vegas Aces sold out all 8,600 of their season ticket memberships in an apparent WNBA first before the Dallas Wings and Atlanta Dream also announced sales of all their season tickets. Last year’s WNBA Finals was the best-selling ever. The Aces Game 4 clincher went head-to-head with the American League Championship Series’ Game 3, and it was the most-watched WNBA Finals game of all time.

This year’s women’s NCAA Championship between Dawn Staley’s South Carolina dynasty and Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes had more viewers than the men’s title game did. Women’s sports are big business now, and superstars like Caitlin Clark are only making them more lucrative.

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