WNBA attendance is skyrocketing — and it's not all on Caitlin Clark

The WNBA enjoyed generation-high attendance in May, the league said Monday, clicking turnstiles at an unprecedented rate that's linked to — but not exclusively the work of — rookie sensation Caitlin Clark.

This May marked the highest ticket sales for the WNBA's opening month in 26 years, up 156% from 2023, according to a league statement.

The addition of Clark, the former University of Iowa star and all-time leading scorer in college basketball history, has clearly been the catalyst of this spike.

The Fever's presence in any arena has led to explosive ticket sales. The New York Liberty, for example, recorded monster gates of 17,735 when Indiana dropped by Barclays Center on May 18 and 17,401 in Clark's next visit to Brooklyn on June 2.

Those two games helped the Liberty's home attendance average soar to 12,586.

Washington Mystics vs New York Liberty (Catalina Fragoso / NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Mystics vs New York Liberty (Catalina Fragoso / NBAE via Getty Images)

But even without those two Fever games, New York's non-Clark attendance still sits at an average of 10,593 for five dates. In their first five home dates of 2023 — without Clark in the league — the Liberty's average crowd was 7,247.

And in Connecticut, the state most closely associated with women's basketball due to the massive success of UConn, the Sun have averaged 6,901 ticket buyers through eight home games. That total is boosted by two sellouts of 8,910 in Clark's WNBA debut on May 14 and Monday night.

But remove those two Clark dates and the Sun averaged 6,901 in six Fever-less dates this year. That's still a spike from 2023 when the team averaged 5,201 fans through six home games.

“What’s happening now in women’s basketball is confirmation of what we’ve always known: The demand is there, and women’s sports is a valuable investment,” said WNBA Chief Growth Officer Colie Edison said in a statement. “We’re encouraged by growing engagement across all our verticals, especially as we welcome new and diverse audiences into our fandom. The WNBA continues to experience sustained growth as our league embraces this heightened momentum.”

In addition to Clark, the league has also benefited from at least two other high-profile rookies in this class, Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky and Cameron Brink of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Both the Sky, which hasn't played host to a Fever game yet this season, and the Sparks have seen significant attendance boosts so far in 2024.

Through five home dates, the Sky have drawn an average of 8,364 compared to 6,411 at the same point in 2023.

The Sparks had to play their first two home games this year at the smaller Walter Pyramid in Long Beach before returning to Arena, where construction work had been done.

Their first game back in Los Angeles came on May 24 against Clark's Fever as a celebrity-laden crowd of 19,103 packed the house.

The next four Sparks home games, following the big Clark-fueled debut, drew an average of 10,265 to Arena. The first four home dates of 2023, played on the same court, had average crowds of 7,501.

Nicolette Aduama, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, said the WNBA's success this season is more than just one player.

"I think it’s definitely both the talent of Caitlin and Angel," she said. "That created a groundswell that is creating more interest in the talent and energy of women’s basketball and sports."

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