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Friday, May 24, 2024

Arena Schedule Shuffle: Clark, WNBA Also Dealing With the NBA and NHL

  • Thursday night’s home preseason game was moved because of the NBA playoffs.
  • A longer Pacers run could bring more disruption to the Fever.
The Indianapolis Star

Caitlin Clark played in her new home arena, Gainbridge Fieldhouse, for the first time Thursday night, as the Indiana Fever beat the Atlanta Dream 83-80 in their second and final preseason game before the WNBA season begins next week. The former Iowa superstar scored 12 points during her 32 minutes on the court in front of roughly 13,000 fans—that’s nearly double any one Fever game last season in which Indiana averaged a crowd of just over 4,000 per game.

The much-hyped matchup was originally scheduled for Friday night, but it was moved up one day due to the Pacers’ needing the venue to host the Knicks in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series in the NBA playoffs. There are no more schedule conflicts for the remainder of the Indiana–New York series, but if the Pacers are to rally from an early 2–0 deficit, a trip to the Eastern Conference finals could potentially disrupt Fever home games scheduled for May 28, May 30, and June 1. While bumping a preseason game up 24 hours didn’t appear to cause any big issues, interfering with regular-season games early into Clark’s rookie season would certainly create headaches for both the NBA and WNBA on a team and league level.

It’s all a sign that the continued rise of interest in the WNBA presents yet another wrinkle in the busy springtime happenings at arenas that are already juggling NBA and NHL postseason games on short notice, in addition to previously scheduled concerts and other events.

The Fever are one of six WNBA teams to share their full-time arena with an NBA or NHL team, and, this month, they have road games scheduled at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, and Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The NHL’s Kraken and Kings both made the playoffs but have since been eliminated. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have each decided to move one home game against Indiana later this season into larger NHL and NBA arenas in their respective cities.

Game Time

Outside of the start of the WNBA season, four venues in particular are still juggling busy schedules in the second rounds of the NBA and NHL playoffs: Madison Square Garden, Boston’s TD Garden, American Airlines Arena in Dallas, and Denver’s Ball Arena. While operators are used to quick turnaround routinely during the regular season, the postseason presents a unique challenge as schedules aren’t officially set until teams advance to the next round.

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