Seattle caught Caitlin Clark fever, but the night belonged to the storm

Climate Pledge Arena hosted the largest crowd in the Seattle Storm’s 25-year history on Wednesday. Although the game attracted avid Storm fans, the main attraction may not have been from Seattle. Many came looking for a rival player, Indiana Fever rookie phenom Caitlin Clark.

“She’s a big inspiration to everyone and she succeeds, even in the face of obstacles and such,” said Morgan Rodenburg, 14, who drove three hours from Eastern Washington to see the game with her cousin Quinn Sager, 10, and their grandmother.

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Sager wore a bright red Indiana Fever shirt with the number 22.

“Even if you don’t know anything about the WNBA, you probably know who Caitlin Clark is,” Sager said.

For Rodenburg and Sager, it was their first Storm game. They loved the positive energy and how “loud and energetic” it was throughout the stadium, Sager said.

They were not alone. Before the night ended, Storm sales director Kyle Waters expected a “record crowd.”

“We think what’s going to happen is there will be 18,343 of us — at full capacity, in a sold-out arena,” Waters said during the game. “And the biggest crowd we’ve ever seen before that was August 7, 2022, during Sue Bird’s last regular season game, which we called Sue’s Last Flight. And it was 18,100 ( people).”

The Storm confirmed Waters’ expectations after the game: a total of 18,343 people watched the game from the stands.

caption: The Seattle Storm set an attendance record on May 23, 2024, welcoming 18,343 fans, more than Sue Bird's last home game (the previous record).  Basketball rookie Caitlin Clark was visiting with the Indiana Fever that night.

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The influence of players like Clark and a stadium full of positive Storm fans is not lost on adult fans. Nearby, Ashley Sams wore a Seattle Storm jersey and said the sold-out arena that night was proof that Caitlin Clark was “revolutionizing” women’s sports. She also highlighted the many academic actors who are expanding their influence through TikTok.

“You’ll see these videos of them with their teammates,” Sams said. “They dance, listen to music or just shoot hoops. It shows community. This is women’s sport.

Sams came to the game with AJ Guller, wearing a Caitlin Clark shirt.

“I’m a Seattle fan, unless we’re playing Caitlin Clark. She’s the GOAT,” Guller said, adding that she saw young girls and boys lining up to get Clark’s autograph. “They admire him.”

The evening wasn’t all about Clark. Another young player made her debut for the Storm side, Nikka Muhl, whose place in the team was delayed due to her visa status.

In the final seconds of the game, Clark mishandled a pass and turned the ball over. This finalized a victory for the Seattle Storm, 85-83.

The Indiana Fever is still 0-5, leaving Clark winless in her second week in the WNBA.

Some fans seemed disappointed in Clark’s loss, but for these basketball fans, her impact on the future of women’s sports is a victory.

caption: Climate Pledge Arena was at maximum capacity, 18,343 people, Wednesday evening.  It was the largest crowd in the storm's 25-year history.

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