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The LA Sparks will play two games at Walter PyramidLong Beach fans get ready to shine

Updated: May 17

Column by Jackie Rae


Rookie Cameron Brink takes a shot with fellow Los Angeles Sparks teammates at the Walter Pyramid on the Cal State Long Beach campus. Photo by Jackie Rae


Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Sparks announced that their first five games would be played at the Walter Pyramid on the Cal State Long Beach campus. This included the high-ticket game featuring rookie sensation Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever on May 24. 


But this week, the Sparks announced that the game against the Fever, as well as matchups with the Dallas Wings on May 26 and the Minnesota Lynx on June 5, will instead be played at Crypto.com Arena in downtown Los Angeles.  


The move is disappointing but understandable. Not only is Crypto the home of the Sparks, but the fanfare around Caitlin Clark warrants the move to a larger venue. 


Still, playing in Long Beach offers the team a unique opportunity. I’ve been covering the Sparks for the past three years. Any true Sparks fan will tell you that while there have been some ups, there have been even more downs for the ladies in purple and gold.  


The Sparks haven't made the playoffs since 2018. With the titles the team won in 2001, 2002, and 2016 becoming distant memories, attendance is dwindling.  


A cheering crowd that embraces the team would undoubtedly boost the players' confidence.  With this in mind, and long before I moved to Long Beach, I had an idea: Why not move the Sparks’ games to the Pyramid?  


Keep in mind this was not a convenient idea for me. At the time, I lived just three minutes away from Crypto. Who wants to make the long drive from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach State in rush hour to watch a game? 


I did. Not because I’m a glutton for traffic punishment but because the spirit of Long Beach is contagious. 


As a reporter in Long Beach, I've witnessed the community come together in remarkable ways. From people speaking out at the City Council to save Anna's Joint to young people rallying for stricter gun laws, celebrations at the African American Cultural Center, Pride parades, and so much more, the people of Long Beach consistently turn out in big numbers in celebration and with a spirit of community.


I believe a move to the Pyramid for two seasons would mean the Sparks could go from struggling to fill the first level of an arena that seats more than 19,000 people — to a venue bursting with 4,000 loud, proud, and loyal fans.


According to Statista, a site that tracks ticket sales and other market data, the Sparks' average attendance at Crypto was just over 6,500. In comparison, the Michelob Ultra Arena, home to the Las Vegas Aces, holds 12,000 people. It took two back-to-back titles for the Aces to sell out season tickets.  


But the Aces arena never felt empty because the regular season attendance was a crowd of nearly 10,000 people. Visually speaking, that is still a packed house. And the Sparks haven't experienced anything close to a packed house in years.


Long Beach has two games to prove that they can change that. I'm counting on basketball fans in Long Beach to help me prove my case to the Sparks. Tickets for all LA Sparks games go on sale Thursday, May 9, at 8 a.m. PST.  


See you at the game, Long Beach!

 


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