SBD/September 16, 2011/Franchises

WNBA Lynx Get Help From Neighboring Teams To Fill Arena For Postseason

Smith expects large crowds at Target Center for the Lynx' playoff games
The WNBA Lynx kick off their ’11 postseason campaign tonight when they host the Silver Stars, and they are getting some support from other pro sports teams in the Twin Cities. The Twins bought 500 tickets for upper-level seats at Target Center in order to allow fans to attend the game for free. The promotion, which included Twins RF Michael Cuddyer recording radio spots, began Wednesday morning, and Lynx COO Conrad Smith said the team took care of 250 people “in just a couple of hours.” Smith noted when people called in asking about the free tickets, the Lynx’ sales team offered better seats for cheap prices. That resulted in a fair amount of fans upgrading to buy $10 tickets for reserved lower-level seats. As of Wednesday afternoon, Smith said the Lynx were close to reaching a sellout. Factoring in expected walk-up purchases, he was confident the team will sell all available tickets by the start of the game. “Our single game sales are up 300% from last year,” Smith said. “That’s phenomenal growth. I’m anticipating a large crowd.” The Twins are not the only local franchise lending a helping hand. The Wild and the Vikings also will be purchasing 500 tickets each to later playoff games. The Wild are buying 500 tickets for the Lynx’ second home game of the playoffs, while the Vikings will buy 500 tickets to the third playoff game at Target Center. Smith said the Univ. of Minnesota has also shown interest in joining the movement. Smith: “We’re going to work through these first few games, but we’re anticipating people calling and saying, ‘Hey, how can we get involved?’”

THAT'S MOORE LIKE IT: After finishing with the second-worst record in the WNBA last season, Smith called the ’11 campaign a “magical season.” A big factor in that is the addition of No. 1 draft pick Maya Moore, who Friday was named the league's Rookie of the Year. A two-time NCAA champion and three-time NCAA Player of the Year at UConn, Moore brought some of the spotlight she grew accustomed to in Storrs with her to Minneapolis. “People have been watching her now for four years,” Smith said. “They watched through the 90-win streak that they had in Connecticut last year to a couple of championships.” He added, “It’s not just an audience that wants to support women’s sports, which is a big part of it, but we have 40-, 50-year-old guys that are just coming to the games as groups because they know it’s good basketball.”
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