Web Editorial Associate
When Lindsay Whalen had her collegiate career come to an end in 2004, she didn’t think she’d ever play at the University of Minnesota again.
Now, 13 years later, she’s going to get that chance.
The Minnesota Lynx announced Thursday morning that Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota will be the team’s venue for all potential home games during the 2017 WNBA Playoffs.
“I’m really looking forward to it. You leave your college arena and you pretty much think that’s the last time you’ll play there. For me, it’s pretty special and I’m very fortunate that we have this opportunity and such a great organization that’s able to put this together and get us over there,” Whalen said. “It will be fun for the ones that haven’t been able to do it and be over there before. It will be fun to get over there.”
Due to the ongoing Target Center renovation, the Lynx have called Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul home this season. Minnesota will move from Xcel Energy Center to Williams Arena to accommodate the Minnesota Wild 2017-18 preseason schedule and other building events.
“It wasn’t surprising, from the standpoint of understanding that the Wild, the Xcel Energy Center is their home and knowing when the hockey season is that there was a strong possibility. . . We feel really fortunate that the Twin Cities is able to offer the types of facilities that we have,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “The University of Minnesota, President Kaler and company, all the way through the athletic department, for them to support us in the way that they did, we are appreciative.”
The Lynx have played a total of four games the University of Minnesota, having played two games at Williams Arena and also played two preseason games at The Sports Pavilion.
The last game at the university was on July 6, 2007 against the Sacramento Monarchs. Two current Lynx played in that game. Seimone Augustus was at the time a second-year guard for Minnesota, while Rebekkah Brunson was a fourth-year forward for Sacramento.
“Knowing that we going back to Lindsay’s old alma mater and her old home court, I think we’ll still have that homecourt advantage. It will be something exciting and new for all of us,” Maya Moore said. “It will have almost an NCAA feel and the Final Four kind of element. As long as there’s two hoops, a court and our fans, it doesn’t matter where we play.”
When Whalen looks back all the memories from her time in college, she recalls of how fun it was to play in front of a packed crowed at ‘the Barn.’
“Loud, it’s loud. We packed there my senior year with 13,000 or 14,000 ever night. It would be pretty cool if we could make that happen for these playoffs,” Whalen said. “I think we will because I think our fans know how special this team is and know how special of a venue it is. They know how cool it is in there when it’s loud and crazy, so I think we’ll have a good time. It’s going to be some hard games, it’s the playoffs. That’s what makes it fun though.”
Tickets at Williams Arena for the 2017 WNBA Playoffs will go on sale to the general public at a later date once the team has clinched a playoff berth.
“Xcel (Energy Center) has been great and it’s been a fun season over there so far. It’s unique. Next year, we will have our Target Center back and all shiny and new, but why not make the best out of it and you get to play in a place like Williams Arena,” Whalen said. “For me and for Minnesotans, we know how special it is, but I guess for the team to get to experience that, it will be pretty cool.”