Fans give the Lynx an edge

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2012 - 11:36 PM

Seats fill fast, and Target Center has become one of the toughest places for visiting teams to play.

hide

Lynx star Maya Moore, left, drove against the Tulsa Shock’s Glory Johnson during Friday’s game in front of 9,213 fans at Target Center. The defending WNBA champion Lynx are averaging 9,883 fans; in 2006, they averaged 6,442.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Sometimes Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve will pop in a game tape from 2010 to watch an opponent her current squad is about to face, to remember what the Lynx did in that matchup to be successful.

Often, the triumph she notices as much as anything is not what transpired on the court but what was happening in the stands. Then, the scattered crowd would be viewed as slow improvement. But the greatest accomplishment comes now, heading into Tuesday night's game against Los Angeles, when Reeve realizes just how far the franchise has come.

"It's really, really different when you're talking 2010 vs. 2011 and now, 2012," Reeve said, chuckling. "People know about it, and maybe the naysayers before who were not necessarily tempted to see us have now come out and seen us. ... I think [Target Center] has overtaken Seattle as far as toughest place to play, and we take great pride in that."

As for the numbers, the Lynx have absolutely overtaken Seattle -- and just about everyone else in the WNBA. This year, the average attendance of 9,883 is second-highest in the league after Los Angeles, and the largest for the Lynx since their inaugural season of 1999. Overall, Minnesota's attendance has increased 53 percent since 2006 -- more than 3,500 fans per game.

"Through all the years, we've always believed ... if we did a good job with what we put on the court, then the fans were going to be responsive," said Roger Griffith, the executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Lynx. "If you look at other sports, college, pro, that's really the way it works."

But there's a lot of other things that have gone into the journey as well. The Timberwolves have worked hard on building the brand of the Lynx -- advertising in areas where local sports fans will be exposed to the team, playing off the concept of "year-round basketball" and tinkering with different ticketing strategies to get people in the seats.

When fans buy season-ticket packages for next year, they all get three tickets for games this season. Additionally, season ticket plans allow payments as low as $14 a month. Already, the Lynx -- who have tripled season ticket holders since 2010 -- have sold 200-plus new season tickets, the quickest in franchise history that's ever been done. Most exciting, Griffith says, is the way the tickets are being sold.

"Before, fans would tend to come and when they'd walk up to buy a ticket, they would buy the cheapest ticket. They were just there to get in the arena for the lowest price they could. Now, the first tickets to go are the best seats, are the most expensive," Griffith said. "People don't just want to be there, they want to be there with the best ticket they can get."

And it's hard to argue that the increased numbers and excitement don't make a difference. On Aug. 19 against Tulsa -- the last of a six-game sellout streak, the longest since the inaugural season -- 15,318 people piled into Target Center, the most since 16,227 showed up on July 14, 2004, to see Lindsay Whalen (then with Connecticut) play her first game in the Twin Cities as pro. The walls rattled as the Lynx obliterated Tulsa 83-59. It's enough to make the old 2010 game tapes seem like a lifetime ago.

"If you just get that little extra energy, whether you're just feeling off that night or your legs aren't under you for whatever reason, and the fans are going crazy and they're really into it, it just helps," Whalen said. "I think that it just kind of shows that we play a fun style and the fans have really responded."

  • LYNX ATTENDANCE UPSWING

    Up next: 7 p.m. today vs. Los Angeles • Target Center • TV: NBATV (106.1-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 Top 8th Inning
San Francisco 3
Los Angeles 6 Bottom 9th Inning
Chicago WSox 0
San Diego 3 Top 7th Inning
Seattle 5
Cleveland 5 Top 6th Inning
Cincinnati 1
Milwaukee 1 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 Top 8th Inning
Kansas City 2
Colorado 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Arizona 4
NY Mets 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Washington 0
Boston 6:05 PM
Minnesota
Toronto 6:05 PM
Baltimore
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Chicago
Dallas 9:30 PM
Portland
Calgary 6:00 PM
Boston
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Dallas 6:30 PM
Florida
NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Nashville
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 39 2nd Half 16:45
MD-Eastern Shore 53
Niagara 18 1st Half 3:26
Siena 29
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Navy 6:00 PM
Colgate
Temple 6:00 PM
East Carolina
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Lafayette
American Univ 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
Minnesota
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
Arkansas 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Morehead State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
North Florida
Southern Ill 6:05 PM
Missouri State
Texas State 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SC State 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 6:30 PM
Coppin State
Middle Tennessee 6:30 PM
FIU
Texas-Arlington 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Norfolk State 6:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Georgia State 7:00 PM
ULM
Marshall 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Rice 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Grambling St
Alabama A&M 7:30 PM
Jackson State
Sam Houston St 7:30 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:30 PM
Nicholls
Portland State 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Southern U 7:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
TX A&M-CC
SE Louisiana 7:45 PM
New Orleans
California 8:00 PM
Arizona
Eastern Ill 8:00 PM
Belmont
Memphis 8:00 PM
Connecticut
VA Commonwealth 8:00 PM
Davidson
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Marist 8:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northwestern St 8:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
North Texas 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 8:00 PM
Washington
Idaho 8:00 PM
Weber State
Abilene Christian 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Eastern Wash 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Bradley 8:35 PM
Drake
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Long Beach State
UC Riverside 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 59 2nd Half 5:00
Tennessee St 64
George Mason 25 2nd Half
Saint Josephs 36
Western Carolina 38 2nd Half 11:20
East Tenn St 40
Arizona 13 1st Half 9:14
UCLA 19
Texas State 28 1st Half 5:49
Appalachian St 23
TX-Arlington 26 1st Half 4:36
Georgia Southern 7
SC State 4:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 4:30 PM
Coppin State
Portland 4:30 PM
Santa Clara
Norfolk State 4:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 4:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 5:00 PM
Florida A&M
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Central Arkansas 5:00 PM
Nicholls
Houston Baptist 5:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Radford
Georgia 5:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
Marshall
Ark-Little Rock 5:00 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 5:15 PM
ULM
Sam Houston St 5:30 PM
Lamar
SE Louisiana 5:30 PM
New Orleans
Northwestern St 5:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Alabama A&M 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Grambling
Southern U 5:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 5:45 PM
Mercer
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Incarnate Word
La Salle 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Illinois 6:00 PM
Nebraska
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Rice
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Oakland
Missouri State 6:05 PM
Indiana State
Georgia Tech 7:00 PM
(15) North Carolina
Presbyterian 7:00 PM
High Point
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
UAB
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
North Texas
Wichita State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Bradley 7:05 PM
Drake
Vanderbilt 7:30 PM
(12) Kentucky
Colorado 8:00 PM
USC
San Francisco 8:00 PM
Pacific
FIU 8:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
Weber State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Purdue 8:25 PM
Minnesota
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Hawaii 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Northern Ariz 9:00 PM
Portland State
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close