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CLARKONOMICS

Sagamore board chair Allison  Barber serves as president of the Indiana Fever.  Listen here to Allison’s comments following the team’s selecting Caitlin Clark with the #1 pick in the 2024 WNBA draft.

Caitlin Clark will not only be a boost to the Indiana Fever’s performance on the court, her arrival in Indianapolis also adds a new chapter in Indianapolis’ history of sports driven economic development.  Here are the top ten indicators of her influence on the economy during the NCAA women’s Final Four and the WNBA draft:

01 Viewership

Caitlin led Iowa to a victory over LSU in the Elite Eight game on April 1 which was the most watched women’s college baskeball game ever.  More than 12 million pepole watched that game compared to the 9 million vieweres of last year’s World Series.  Ball State’s communicators school reported 162,000 media stories featuring Clark during the NCAA tournament resulting in 177 billion media impressions valued at more than $2.6 billion.

02 Spending

Ball State economist Michael Hicks estimates that 26,000 more fans will attend Fever games in Catin’s first season.  Their total spending will be more than $6 million on games and lodging and that doesn’t count increased television game revenue.

03 Airtime

The Indiana Fever had one televised game last season.  This year, 36 of 40 games will be televised across seven networks.  It will be interesting to see the “Caitlin Effect” on TV viewership.  Last year, 1 in 700 Americans viewed a WNBA game; by contrast, 1 in 20 watched Caitlin play in the NCAA championship game.

04 Salaries

Since television viewership has a direct link on player salaries, we’ll keep track of whether the WNBA’s mid-$70,000 range salaries will incease as more fans tune into Caitlin’s games.  Another Hoosier basketball star, Larry Bird, had a similar impact in the NBA economy as fans watched his rivalry games with Magic Johnson from their epic 1979 Final Four throughout their Celtics-Lakers championships battles.

05 Merchandise Sales

Caitlin Clark was the best selling athlete ever on Fanatics during WNBA draft night.  Fans bought more of her Indiana Fever jerseys that night than the Dallas Cowboys sold for all of their players combined for the entire 2023 season.

06 Ticket Prices

Last season, the Indiana Fever averaged 4,067 fans per game.  Tickets to this year’s games have doubled in price and sales are up 13 times; remarkably, the Fever-Chicago Sky game selling tickets for $1,700 on the secondary market.  The Fever is not the only team to benefit.  WNBA ticket sales are up 93% this year according to Stub Hub.  @Gametime reports that 10 of the highest priced WNBA games this year will feature the Fever.

07 Demand

Caitin has inspired an intramural competition inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.  Pacers courtside seats during their 2024 playoff games sold for $1,220 per seat.  Courtside seats for the upcoming Fever regular season games are being sold for $2,453 per seat.

08 Visibility

For all of this economic impact, what will Caitlin be paid?  Her rookie contract is $76,535 which is an average Walmart store manager’s salary.  President Biden took time tweet that women aren’t paid their fair share.  WNBA economics suggest that the salaries are sized according to revenue; the league has consistenly lost revenue over the past 25 years requiring the NBA franchises to subsidize the product.  In the year before the Larry Bird/Magic Johnson draft, David Thompson was the highest paid player at $800,000 annually.  When Magic retired in 1996, multiple players wer being paid $10 million annually.

09 Brand Deals

Then there is the money off the court.  Nike is producing a Caitlin Clark signature sneaker as part of their 8 year $28M contract with her.  She also has deals with State Farm, Gatorade, Panini and Gainbridge.

10 Future Stars

There is a noticable spike in young girls going out to shoot hoops in the driveway pretending that they are Caitlin Clark. Listen here to the reaction by Fever fans who filled Gainbridge Fieldhouse to watch the draft HERE.