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Fans new and old alike snap up tickets for Aces games

Updated May 14, 2024 - 11:39 pm

A year ago, Deanne Stogdill could have never imagined frantically clicking on her computer to buy tickets to an Aces game. But last month, that’s exactly what she did.

The WNBA is experiencing a period of exponential growth as it capitalizes on the momentum from the 2023 Finals, which recorded the league’s highest TV viewership in 20 years. More interest comes from the new rookie class, headlined by Iowa star Caitlin Clark and Louisiana State’s Angel Reese.

But the Aces, the two-time defending champions, led the league in ticket demand ahead of the upcoming season, with StubHub reporting a 93 percent increase in sales for WNBA games overall. In a league first, the Aces sold out their allotted season tickets in March.

Stogdill, a 56-year-old Iowa native nicknamed “Dee,” hasn’t lived anywhere other than her home state. She’s a lifelong Hawkeye men’s fan who said she never thought twice about women’s basketball until she discovered Megan Gustafson. The 6-foot-3-inch center ruled Iowa from 2015 to 2019, and she signed with the Aces in February.

Soon after Gustafson’s reign, Stogdill would become enthralled with Clark, who entered Iowa in 2020.

You know the rest of the story by now: Clark’s meteoric collegiate career cemented her as the WNBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick by the Indiana Fever in April, and she’s already taking the league by storm.

“I already had my tickets to see Caitlin in Las Vegas before draft night,” Stogdill said.

‘Holy cow’

She said she decided to make a girls’ trip of it with one of her close friends because her fellow Hawkeyes fans were buying up all of the tickets for Clark’s appointments with closer teams like the Chicago Sky, with resale prices moving to more than $300.

The Vegas deal got sweeter for Stogdill when the Aces drafted Iowa guard Kate Martin in the second round.

“I was like, holy cow, that would be so awesome to see the best friends and former roommates playing on opposite teams,” Stogdill said.

Buying tickets in Las Vegas early paid off, as even local fans are struggling to secure tickets now.

Stogdill said that she got a taste of that experience when the Aces announced they were moving their home matchup against the Fever on July 2 from Michelob Ultra Arena to T-Mobile Arena. She felt the need to buy new tickets to ensure she still had good seats, but she struggled to secure a set on AXS.com.

“I would pick two seats and go to checkout, it would say, ‘Oh, at least one of your seats is no longer available,’” Stogdill said. “I did that like three or four times until I finally was able to get to the checkout with two seats.”

Michelob Ultra Arena is a 12,000-seat complex, while T-Mobile Arena can hold up to 18,000 fans. (The Aces also host the Fever at Michelob Ultra on May 25.)

Third ticket too steep

Andre R. Webster, a Las Vegas-based electronic technician, wants Iowa fans to understand that the Aces have drawn major crowds before Clark’s addition to the league.

Webster was shocked by high secondary market prices when he and his wife attempted to buy a third ticket for the Aces’ meeting Saturday with the Los Angeles Sparks.

The couple have been regular Aces attendees since 2018 and season ticket holders since the 2022 Finals. The third ticket was for Webster’s mother-in-law.

“The only (affordable) seat my wife could find was in the upper bowl,” Webster said. “She told me, ‘Just take one of your buddies to the game and I will hang out with my mother in the casino until after.’”

Webster and his wife’s tickets are six rows up, between half court and the Aces’ bench. He says he lives and breathes basketball, and he has his eye on center Kiah Stokes this season, who he thinks will have an expanded offensive role. But he believes Aces forward A’ja Wilson is the best player in the world.

‘That’s amazing’

Kevin Whitworth agrees. His wife and two 10-year-old children have been going to Aces games since the team relocated to Nevada before the 2018 season. While the 43-year-old works as a baker, he has a company called Klever Shirts, whose apparel Wilson has worn for back-to-back championship parades.

His relationship with the 2023 Finals MVP began during the COVID-19 pandemic when the league played in the so-called “wubble.” When Wilson won the 2020 MVP award, the daughter of former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, Keri, reached out to Whitworth and asked him to create a shirt for the team’s star.

He’s had the opportunity to meet Wilson on several occasions since then, something his kids have become accustomed to.

“So we have split aisle seats near the tunnel,” Whitworth said. “Every time at the end of the game, they always love to get the autographs from the players.”

As a season ticket holder, all he had to do was pay a renewal fee this year. He can’t wait to watch the Aces hang their banner and receive their rings when they open their season at home against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday

“I’m excited for that to happen for the players. Just to be there,” Whitworth said. “A sellout arena. That’s amazing. We were there when there were barely any seats filled.”

Contact Callie Lawson-Freeman at clawsonfreeman@reviewjournal.com. Follow @CallieJLaw on X.

A previous version of this story misspelled Deanne Stogdill’s name.

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