It had been 622 days — or one year, eight months, and 14 days — since the Minnesota Lynx took the floor at Target Center for a regular-season game. Minnesota last stepped on the hardwood in downtown Minneapolis on Sept. 1, 2019, hosting the Indiana Fever in a game that saw the Lynx come away with an 81-73 victory in the third-to-final regular-season contest of the 2019 season.
Since that game, the Lynx made two playoff appearances and played an abbreviated season in a bubble location in Florida. None of which was played in Minnesota or in front of their home crowd.
On Friday night against the Phoenix Mercury to tip off this season, that streak finally ended. Minnesota returned home in front of a limited amount of fans for the first time since 2019, a game that saw Phoenix come away with a 77-75 win behind a last-second go-ahead bucket from Diana Taurasi.
Lynx Happy to Begin Regular Season with Fans in the Stands
Unlike the preseason finale against the Washington Mystics on May 8, more fans were in the stands and able to cheer on their team on Friday night to welcome in the new year. Although playing in front of empty arenas has been somewhat of the norm for Minnesota the last year-plus, it was a welcome sight for Cheryl Reeve’s team to see and hear the Lynx faithful back at Target Center, even with limited fans in attendance.
“There’s real excitement to be welcoming fans back,” Reeve said leading up to Friday’s season opener.
As players entered the court pre-game to a standing ovation from the crowd, players were seen with big smiles on their faces and clearly excited to have their fans back. When Reeve and her coaching staff entered the arena shortly after, the entire coaching staff clapped and waved to the crowd as a way of saying welcome back.
“I’m really excited,” Sylvia Fowles said. “I’m happy we’re back at home in Target Center and back in front of some fans.”
And even though it was a limited crowd, the fans in attendance didn’t waste any time breaking out the famous ‘Whose House? Our House’ chant, which echoed throughout Target Center once again.
“We are so excited to welcome back our fans to Target Center,” Lynx president of business operations Carley Knox said in a statement sent out by the team. “There’s a lot to look forward to this season with the WNBA’s 25th anniversary and playing in front of the best fans in the WNBA. We’ve missed them and the energy they bring to ‘our house.’”
Fans Thrilled to Watch Lynx In Person
For at least the first few games of the regular season, attendance is limited to 3,000 fans at Target Center, the same number that is allowed to attend Minnesota Timberwolves games right now. That number could increase as soon as the end of the month as Minnesota’s COVID restrictions continue to loosen up.
A majority of the people in attendance were season ticket holders, although single game tickets did go on sale for upper-level tickets a few days prior to Friday’s home opener and additional tickets will be available for games to come.
Regardless of how many people are being allowed right now, fans were thrilled to just have the ability to experience an in-person game once again.
“It’s nice. It brings some normalcy back just being here,” said Ben Wagner, who has been a Lynx season ticket holder since 2006. “It’s a little weird because we aren’t in our normal seats because they have us spaced out in two- and four-person pods and six feet away. People got moved around like I did, but it is what it is. It’s just nice being back and seeing (the Lynx) play.”
For season ticket holders, they weren’t told exactly where their seats would be for Friday’s game until last Monday. According to Wagner, they got an email in early April giving the option to opt-in or opt-out of season tickets. If fans chose to opt-out, their tickets would roll over to next season. If they opted in, they would be assigned seats in the arena.
“Some people aren’t happy with where their seats are, but if we want to go to games this is how it’s going to be for a while,” Wagner said. “This is how it’s going to be if you want to attend a sporting event right now. You might not be in your normal seats, but you get to see live basketball. I’m happy they are letting us come back, even though it’s a bit of a weird situation. But this allows us to kind of feel normal for a few hours.”
The experience of an in-person game at Target Center may not be the same as it was the last time fans flooded the arena to take in a game, but they are just happy to be allowed back to welcome in a new season watching their team for the first time nearly two full years.
“I’m excited,” Wagner said. “It brings some normalcy back for two hours at least a couple times a week where you can see people you haven’t been able to see since 2019.”