Clark helps Liberty become 1st WNBA team to have $2M+ in 1-game ticket revenue, AP source says

NEW YORK (AP) — Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark helped bring in record ticket revenue for the New York Liberty in her first game in the Big Apple on Saturday.

The Liberty had more than $2 million in ticket revenue for the game at the Barclays Center, a WNBA record, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk about the team's revenue.

“That’s incredible,” Liberty star Breanna Stewart said when she heard about the record ticket revenue. “I think the buzz and eyes that Caitlin has brought from Iowa now to the WNBA is going to be a collective win for all. When I first started in the league, some teams weren’t even making revenue. ... It’s a long time coming. We’re happy to be at this point, but we’re not satisfied.”

The game was sold out, with 17,735 fans in attendance, and tickets were hot on the secondary market.

“It says everything: The product we have on the court is important, but there’s a team working behind us that continues to fuel this organization and be the first in a lot of categories,” Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu said. “Understanding that’s what we’re generating. It tells a story. It’s not a one-time thing.”

Selling out arenas is nothing new for Clark. Her first three games with the Fever have been huge for attendance and TV ratings. The Connecticut Sun sold out their home opener for the first time in 20 years. More than 17,000 fans turned out for the Fever's home opener against the Liberty on Thursday night.

Clark had one of the best games of her young pro career on Saturday, finishing with 22 points, including 15 in the first half, although the Fever lost 91-80.

She got going early against the Liberty, scoring 10 in the first quarter — more than she had in the matchup between the teams two days earlier in Indianapolis, where she just had nine. She looked more confident attacking on offense and even hit a few of her signature deep 3-pointers.

The league’s No. 1 draft pick is no stranger to playing on the biggest of stages, having brought so many new fans to the sport during her time at Iowa. She helped the Hawkeyes reach the NCAA championship game the past two seasons and routinely played in front of sellout crowds like the one in New York on Saturday.

She drew women's sports royalty to the game, with Billie Jean King, Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe, Michelle Wie West and Dawn Staley all in attendance.

Clark came into the game averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in her first two games. She had shot poorly in her first two games but was much better Saturday, going 9 for 17 from the field.

She also understands her importance to the game, spending 10 minutes after warming up signing autographs for dozens of fans, including many young girls who waited patiently for the rookie.

“I thought the atmosphere was incredible," Clark said. “Definitely a lot of young girls here today — that was a lot of fun to see. The Liberty definitely deserve this crowd. They've been incredible over the course of the last few seasons. They are going to be incredible this year. It's fun to play in New York for the first time and play in front of this environment.”

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

05/18/2024 20:37 -0400

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