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SBD/July 15, 2011/Franchises
WNBA Liberty Seeing A Drop In Attendance In First Season At Prudential Center
Published July 15, 2011
The Liberty in their first year playing at Prudential Center have “struggled to recoup much of the fan base that consistently made” Madison Square Garden one of the "highest-attended WNBA arenas," according to Brett LoGiurato of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The Liberty are playing the next three seasons in Prudential Center while MSG undergoes renovations. The team, which had "paid attendance averages of 11,926 fans per game" in its first 14 years at MSG, has “averaged 8,255 fans this season at the Prudential Center.” Still, the Liberty and the city of Newark “are keeping an open mind that this is a partnership that will pay dividends for both by the end” of ’13. The Liberty want to “leave Newark with a larger fan base -- and leave a lasting effect on a community that is filled with girls basketball players.” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said that he wants to “impress the WNBA to an extent that a team could become a more permanent fixture in the Prudential Center after the Liberty’s stay concludes.” MSG Sports President Scott O’Neil said, “We are very happy with where we are. It’s been really positive. But we’d like more fans.” The Liberty on Wednesday saw their “largest crowd of the season for a noon tipoff.” More than “14,000 fans attended the Liberty’s win over Atlanta, thanks to the team’s promotion of inviting local children’s camps to the arena.” The game marked “the largest crowd in the WNBA this season.” The Liberty have “donated tickets to 64 non-profit organizations in the surrounding community.” They have held a “Liberty Day” in Newark already, and “two more in Jersey City and Paterson are planned” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/15). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Chris Herring notes the team’s “marketing vehicle has made appearances at more than 30 local summer events, including basketball tournaments, street fairs, concerts and block parties.” In addition, the team “has advertised ticket promotions on Hot 97, the area’s most popular hip-hop station,” and provided Booker 15,000 tickets “for him to distribute.” Herring notes the Liberty's "decline comes as the WNBA as a whole is seeing a 4% jump in attendance" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/15).