Fever already cashing in on WNBA title, aiming for more

October 22, 2012
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The Indiana Fever bandwagon is filling up after bringing Indianapolis its first professional basketball championship since 1973.

The new WNBA champs packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse to capacity (18,165) for Game 3 of the finals on Friday. A rowdy crowd of 15,213 attended Sunday’s Game 4, an 87-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx, the defending WNBA champs.

The Fever have been in the upper half in WNBA attendance since the team’s founding in 2000. This year the team averaged 7,582 per home game, good for sixth in the 12-team league.

“We feel we have a strong niche,” said Indiana Fever spokesman Kevin Messenger.

That niche could be growing with the team’s unprecedented success on the court this year. The team is expected to launch an off-season marketing campaign to try to turn the championship into ticket and sponsorship sales.

If Minnesota's success this year is any indication, now is the time for Fever officials to capitalize financially. Minnesota saw its 2012 home attendance increase 14.6 percent in the wake of its 2011 WNBA championship.

Already the cash registers are ringing loudly for the Fever.

On Friday and Sunday, the Fever set single-day sales records for merchandise, team officials said. On Sunday, the Fever’s game on ESPN2 scored a 5.7 rating in the Indianapolis market, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research Co. More than 61,100 central Indiana households tuned in.

During the fourth quarter, the rating spiked to 8.7, meaning almost 94,000 households were watching the Fever dismantle the Lynx. Fourteen percent of central Indiana households watching TV were watching the Fever game during the fourth quarter.

Fever Chief Operating Officer Kelly Krauskopf called a multi-year agreement between the team and sporting goods retailer Finish Line “one of the landmark moments in our franchise history.”

Financial terms of the deal, which was announced Friday, were not disclosed, but sports marketers estimated the deal—which includes the Finish Line logo being placed prominently on the front of the Fever players’ jerseys starting next year—in the low to mid six-figure range annually.

Indiana’s jersey sponsorship is the sixth of its kind in the 16-year-old league, joining similar deals by the Phoenix Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks, Seattle Storm, New York Liberty and Washington Mystics.

The Finish Line partnership will be a key part of the team’s effort to raise its profile and attendance, Fever officials said. Finish Line, which has dozens of stores across the state, is expected to heavily promote the team next year.

“This is a sign that what we’re doing is working,” Messenger said.

The Fever are surging, but the WNBA as a whole still has its challenges.

WNBA teams averaged 7,457 fans per game this season, marking the league’s lowest average since it began play in 1997. The previous low was 7,479 per game set in 2006. This year’s league-wide attendance is down 6 percent from last season. The Fever’s attendance for 17 home games was down 5.9 percent from 2011.

The Fever have been at or slightly below break even most years since the team's launch. But team owner Herb Simon, who also owns the Indiana Pacers, said he is committed to growing the franchise.

There are signs of growth for the league and the Fever.

Game 2 of the Finals on Wednesday was the most-viewed and highest-rated WNBA playoff game on ESPN since 1999. The game averaged 778,000 TV viewers nationwide with a peak of just over 1 million. Minneapolis delivered a 3.8 local rating and Indianapolis scored a 2.4 rating.

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  • Stars such as Skylar and Brittany will bring viewership
    Basketball is generally built on "star" power. So, when stars like Skylar Diggins and Brittany Grimes come out next year, that will help viewership for the league. Both are great players who are well-spoken ambassadors for the league.

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  1. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

  2. 85 feet for an ambitious project? I could shoot ej*culate farther than that.

  3. I tried, can't take it anymore. Untill Katz is replaced I can't listen anymore.

  4. Perhaps, but they've had a very active program to reduce rainwater/sump pump inflows for a number of years. But you are correct that controlling these peak flows will require spending more money - surge tanks, lines or removing storm water inflow at the source.

  5. All sewage goes to the Carmel treatment plant on the White River at 96th St. Rainfall should not affect sewage flows, but somehow it does - and the increased rate is more than the plant can handle a few times each year. One big source is typically homeowners who have their sump pumps connect into the sanitary sewer line rather than to the storm sewer line or yard. So we (Carmel and Clay Twp) need someway to hold the excess flow for a few days until the plant can process this material. Carmel wants the surge tank located at the treatment plant but than means an expensive underground line has to be installed through residential areas while CTRWD wants the surge tank located further 'upstream' from the treatment plant which costs less. Either solution works from an environmental control perspective. The less expensive solution means some people would likely have an unsightly tank near them. Carmel wants the more expensive solution - surprise!

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