Web Editorial Associate
Before the 2017 WNBA season began, the Minnesota Lynx knew they would be faced with a unique opportunity that they haven’t quite had before.
The Lynx announced prior to the year that they would move to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for regular season play while Target Center undergoes its current renovation.
In some situations in the past, teams who end up being displaced from their home arenas and play in a different location for a period of time could experience a drop in attendance at that new location.
That wasn’t the case for the Lynx.
Minnesota, which wrapped up its 17-game home schedule at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday, actually experienced the exact opposite in St. Paul.
Throughout the course of the regular season in St. Paul, the Lynx were able to increase their attendance compared to what they had last season and they were able to actually grow their fan base.
“We felt like we could be one of the few teams in the history of the league to be displaced and have a chance to grow our business. And our fans came through,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “The Eastern metro has gotten out to support us. We talk about our new fans, but give credit to our fans that were over at Target Center and they stuck with us. . . We are fortunate to have two great cities close together and have amazing facilities. We are very, very lucky.”
If you attended a game at Xcel Energy Center throughout the season this year, you would have noticed the great crowds that showed up every single game. Every game was rocking with around 10,000 fans in the seats.
That crowd helped provide a homecourt advantage to a team that wasn’t playing at their usual home arena.
“They over-exceeded my expectations. I think we picked up a couple of more fans here,” Sylvia Fowles said. “They love us out here in St. Paul and we are happy to embrace them in our family. I’m happy we crowded this place.”
That homecourt advantage helped the Lynx to a 15-2 record, which is tied for their best home record since Minnesota’s 2012 season.
For the Lynx players and coaches, the loyalty of the fans traveling to another arena and the addition of new fans along the way hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Lynx fans were a big part in providing help for Minnesota to finish as the top team in the WNBA for the second straight season.
And they certainly helped make Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul feel like home in this season.
“It’s been great. . . They’ve come out and we’ve actually been able to get newer fans in St. Paul, so they’ve been good to us,” Rebekkah Brunson said. “I absolutely feel like the fans here have met all of my expectations.
“They’ve been amazing. Whatever is going on, they’ve been behind us and I appreciate it.”