Phoenix Mercury Business leads way in record-setting WNBA seasonPosted: Updated:
A model of success on and off the court, this season the Phoenix Mercury led the way in a record-setting season in the WNBA, the longest-running, most successful women's professional league in the world.
An original franchise now in its 17th season, the Mercury continues to be at the forefront of the WNBA's business growth and fan engagement. This season, Phoenix featured the largest increase in ticket revenue per game of any WNBA team, and sold more than 1,000 new full season tickets, most in the league. The Mercury featured the league's highest full season ticket revenue, also the highest increase in that category, and the franchise's highest mark since 1998. Phoenix sold out Row A courtside seats at US Airways Center for the first time in franchise history.
"Our numbers this season at the turnstiles, on television and online were the result of an organization-wide effort, and representative of the state of our franchise and the league as a whole," said Mercury President and COO Amber Cox. "The collective, committed effort of everyone from ownership to staff allowed us to set a new standard upon which we will continue to build."
The Mercury's nearly 10 percent increase in attendance was second-best in the league overall, and Phoenix added to that in the playoffs; the Mercury averaged 9,560 fans in two home playoff games, including 11,110 on Sept. 21 against Los Angeles, the team's best-attended first-round home playoff game in 15 seasons. Excitement about the Mercury was not just limited to Phoenix fans, as the Mercury led the league in road attendance. Other teams added courtside seats and dynamically priced-up the Mercury's visit, many recording their top attendance nights of the season when Phoenix was in town.
Basketball fans all over the world made PhoenixMercury.com the most visited site in the WNBA, as the Mercury led the league in pages views, visits and unique visitors by a wide margin. PhoenixMercury.com alone accounted for more than 17 percent of total WNBA website traffic.
League ratings on ESPN2 increased 28 percent overall in 2013; Phoenix was featured on national television the maximum six times and the debut of rookie sensation and No. 1 overall pick Brittney Griner garnered the highest viewership for a regular season WNBA game in nearly a decade (2004).
Griner's jersey was the league's top seller in 2013, and Mercury jerseys overall were the second-best seller in the league.
The Mercury's success on the court helped drive the interest reflected in the record-setting numbers above. Despite early-season inconsistency, a midseason coaching change vaulted the Mercury to a 9-4 (.692) close to the regular season under Russ Pennell, the best 13-game start to a head coaching tenure in franchise history. Pennell's Mercury did two things synonymous with great teams: won at home and won with defense. The Mercury compiled a 6-1 (.857) regular season home record under Pennell (4-6 before), the best home start to a head coaching tenure in franchise history; and, during his tenure, no WNBA team held opponents to a lower field goal percentage than the Mercury's 38.1-percent allowed in Pennell's 13 games (Aug. 9-Sept. 15).
Phoenix had two players, Diana Taurasi and Griner, voted to start the WNBA All-Star Game for the first time in franchise history. Griner not only set a single-game record with two dunks in game, but also averaged a franchise-record 3.00 blocks for the season, just the second player in league history to reach that mark, and the first since 2002. All Taurasi did was continue to demonstrate why she is the best player in the world, becoming the first player in league history to average at least 20.0 points and 6.0 assists in the same season, and first to finish ranked in the top two in both categories since the league's inception. All told, Taurasi averaged 20.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists, numbers that only four NBA players—LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook—recorded in 2012-13 (WNBA game-40 minutes, NBA game-48).
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