Aces unaffected by expected record crowd for game against Fever, Caitlin Clark (2024)

Sold-out venues have become the norm for the back-to-back WNBAchampions

Aces unaffected by expected record crowd for game against Fever, Caitlin Clark (1)

Steve Marcus

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) drives against Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young (0) during the first half of an WNBA basketball game at Michelob Ultra Arena in Mandalay Bay Saturday, May 25,2024.

By Jack Williams (contact)

Tuesday, July 2, 2024 | 2 a.m.

Caitlin Clark’s arrival to the WNBA has been anything but subtle.

The Indiana Fever rookie has picked up where she left off after becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer at the University of Iowa by breaking WNBA records, creating endless conversation and selling out games everywhere.

The Clark Show makes a stop locally tonight when the Las Vegas Aces host the Fever at 6:30 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena. The Aces beat the Fever 99-80 in May at Michelob Ultra Arena, but Clark’s second and final stop in Las Vegas this season has been upgraded to the larger venue to account for demand.

The game is expected to set the franchise record for attendance, eclipsing the 17,406 fans who showed up for a September win over the Phoenix Mercury at T-Mobile last year.

T-Mobile Arena can hold about 6,000 more people than Michelob Ultra. The Aces’ second and final scheduled home game at T-Mobile this season comes against the Chicago Sky on July 16.

While Clark attracts a big crowd, selling out games is nothing new to the Aces. The WNBA might be exploding in popularity in large part because of Clark, but the Aces were already thriving with a fervent fan base that’s watched them win back-to-back championships.

"We've been playing in front of a really great crowd for the past couple of years, so we're just embracing it," forward Kiah Stokes said. "Playing in front of more people is a blessing. We're just going to take it for what it is and just try to give the fans a show."

Las Vegas has already sold out of tickets for every home game this season, the first team in WNBA history to accomplish the feat. All nine games that the Aces have played at home so far this season are within the top 14 most-attended games in franchise history.

“There are so many great players in this game and to be able to sell out the arenas, I expect us to sell out more and I can see our team being the team that becomes what we want them to become and that is America's team," Aces President Nikki Fargas said in April.

There’s no denying Clark’s impact leaguewide. The Fever’s stops in Atlanta, Washington, Connecticut, Seattle and New York have all set franchise attendance records this season.

But it was different for the Aces, at least the first time around. Their matchup against the Fever earlier this season barely cracked the franchise’s top-five most-attended games and sits only third this season with 10,399 fans.

The two games that drew a higher attendance were the May 14 opener against the Phoenix Mercury, when the Aces celebrated their 2023 title, and a July 15 showdown with the New York Liberty, a rematch of last year’s finals.

It’s a testament to the Aces’ popularity that they’re consistently filling arenas with numbers other teams only approach when the Fever come to town.

Las Vegas averaged a league-leading 9,551 fans last season, per Statista, and now hasn’t dipped below an attendance of 10,000 in 11 straight games dating back to last year’s playoffs.

That’s part of the reason why the Aces say playing the Fever doesn’t change anything for them.

The last time Indiana came to town, Las Vegas star A’ja Wilson went as far as to say that she didn’t want fans coming to watch the game if they were there to watch anyone other than the Aces.

At the minimum, she might have to deal with a few hundred Iowa fans tonight in attendance to support Hawkeye alumni. But that’s also nothing new to the Aces, as fan-favorite and Clark’s best friend, Kate Martin, has brought a contingency of black and gold to Michelob Ultra throughout her rookie season.

Aces center Megan Gustafson is also an Iowa product, though she was there before Clark and Martin led the team to back-to-back Final Fours the last two years.

"It's super special and it's a testament to what coach (Lisa) Bluder built at Iowa,” Martin said. “The Hawkeye fans are probably going to show out. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a bunch of them here."

The Fever may have grown used to playing in front of sell-out crowds, but so have the Aces. Las Vegas has been doing it for almost two years straight.

"I don't really care who's bringing this or who's bringing the crowd," Aces coach Becky Hammon said the last time the Aces hosted the Fever. "What I care about is that they see how great women's basketball is."

[emailprotected] / 702-259-8814 /@jackgwilliams

Aces unaffected by expected record crowd for game against Fever, Caitlin Clark (2024)


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