Iowa star Caitlin Clark left in awe by sold-out arenas, heightened fan interest: ‘It’s crazy’


Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark swept all major national player of the year awards last year and has followed up her strong campaign with another impressive performance this season.

Through 22 games, Clark is averaging a career-high 32.1 points per contest. The Hawkeyes, last season’s national championship runners-up, have won 20 of those 22 games. 

Clark and No. 3-ranked Iowa have become a must-see attraction for fans all across the U.S. 

Almost every basketball arena the Hawkeyes have traveled to this season has been sold out. Fans who have not been able to secure tickets prior to a sellout have had to resort to the secondary market, where tickets sometimes cost thousands. 

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Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates with teammates after a game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., Jan. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Clark is on the cusp of breaking the NCAA all-time scoring record, which will likely drum up interest from fans over the next couple of weeks.

In past years, the Tennessee Volunteers and UConn Huskies’ women’s teams have attracted massive crowds, while South Carolina’s recent dominance has created a strong fan base. The attention being paid the Iowa basketball program largely appears to be due to Clark’s unique talents.

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“Nobody’s ever had a player like this. She’s a combination of Pete Maravich and Steph Curry,” said Fox Sports announcer Gus Johnson. “She plays in a different dimension and realm. Her ability to see, understand and anticipate the game and then, from a physical aspect, shoot the ball from almost anywhere when she gets into the frontcourt. Not even Diana Taurasi had this kind of range.”

Caitlin Clark drives

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) makes a layup in front of Ohio State Buckeyes guard Celeste Taylor (12) during a game at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 21, 2024. (Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today Network)

According to ticket marketplace Vivid Seats, the five most in-demand NCAA women’s games this year have featured Iowa. The average price of tickets for the Hawkeyes since Clark joined the team in 2020 is up 224%, and the average distance traveled by a fan to watch Iowa play is up 34% from last season.

“It’s honestly hard for me to wrap my head around. It’s crazy, it’s crazy the way people scream my name and really support us, and I try to make time for as many as them as I can,” Clark said. 

Caitlin Clark dribbles

Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes dribbles the ball against the LSU Tigers during the 2023 NCAA Tournament national championship at American Airlines Center April 2, 2023, in Dallas, Texas. (Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

“Like, whenever I walk off the court, it’s so special just the way people scream our names and are so excited for our team. And that’s something that never gets old. I was that kid a few years back, so it’s crazy how time flies, and I just try to soak it all in, every single moment.”

Clark is part of a new generation of stars fans can easily and constantly see through highlights on social media and games available on a number of networks and streaming services. 

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Last year’s national championship game that featured Iowa and LSU drew almost 10 million viewers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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