“Wow, I’ve never seen it like this,” a Lynx fan was overheard saying walking into the crowded Target Center lobby Thursday night. The WNBA Finals decisive Game 5 attracted 19,423, a true sellout, the first in franchise history.
The large crowd on hand for the Los Angeles Sparks' 77-76 victory over the Lynx was the fifth largest in WNBA Finals history and the best-attended finals game since 2007.
The Sparks played in the most-attended finals game (22,076) at Detroit in 2003. Detroit also attracted 22,076 in the 2007 finals against Phoenix.
“What a great atmosphere,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after her outburst on the poor officiating. “I’ve got to commend our fan base for providing us an atmosphere all season long and creating this home court advantage. … They brought it [Thursday night], our fans did, and they walked away knowing they saw a good game and I know they’re just as proud of our team as I am.”
The Lynx initially offered free T-shirts to the first 10,000 fans to arrive Thursday, but rewarded the community’s great response by handing out 18,000 T-shirts for a “Green out.”
The lower bowl sold out quickly after Game 4 and Wednesday the team announced the upper bowl was also selling fast. The Lynx announced 12,113 attended Game 1 and 12,832 for Game 2 at Target Center. A lower-level sellout is 9,181. Last year’s WNBA Finals Game 5 in Minneapolis attracted 18,993.
Los Angeles coach Brian Agler, who coached in Minnesota from 1999-2002, praised the community’s support for the Lynx and women’s basketball.
“They’ve built up something special here,” Agler said. “They deserve the attendance they got [for Game 5]. They probably deserve it consistently.”
Some of the celebrities on-hand for the finale were Sparks part-owner Magic Johnson and Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Nemanja Bjelica, Ricky Rubio and Cole Aldrich .