Multiple teams forced to relocate losing their homecourt for the playoffs
By Cristhian Plasencia
While the Las Angeles Sparks hosted their playoff game at the Staple Center, two other teams found themselves hosting playoff games in different arenas.
The Washington Mystics play their home games at Capital One Arena, but since the shared arena will go through significant renovations, the Mystics played at the George Washington’s Smith Center on Thursday night.
Capital One Arena holds up 20,356 fans for basketball games, meanwhile, the Smith Center only has a capacity of 5,000.
Talking Stick Resort Arena hosted J. Cole’s concert, forcing the Phoenix Mercury to play at Arizona State’s home court, Wells Fargo Arena.
Planning ahead of time would put conflicts of interest to rest. It’s best for arenas to schedule concert dates around the WNBA playoffs. Venues should be mindful of their teams and allow games to be held. Proponents for the WNBA question the priority of its league’s teams.
“The problem is that the playoff dates are committed to TV, and it’s hard to move them. But if you’re in an arena like [Capital One],” said Mystics Coach/GM Mike Thibault. “This year is a little unique because of the construction, but if you have the chance to book something in there a year ahead of time that’s worth a million dollars, you’re going to do it.”
Thibault said it will be nice to have their own arena where they can control dates, and next year it will give them a feel of how it’s normally going to be.
The Washington Mystics will host their home games at St. Elizabeth’s East Entertainment and Sports Arena, in Congress Heights. They will share the arena with Washington Wizards’ G League team – Capital City Go-Go.
It's on schedule to open in September 2018. The capacity reaches up to 4,200, but smaller arenas give some teams better environments.
“It’s a nice change, going from a gigantic Capital One where the lower bowl usually has people but the upper is always empty,” said center LaToya Sanders. “Sometimes the fans can seem so far away, so I think George Washington is going to give us a nice home-court advantage.”
Many teams are downsizing their venues to save expenses. In 2019, there will be only four teams playing in NBA arenas: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Minnesota and Indiana.
“We started in NBA buildings because they were available,” WNBA President Lisa Borders told the AP in an interview. “NBA owners, with the infrastructure they had, it was easy to drop a team in.”
The Connecticut Sun’s Mohegan Sun renders the ideal size for a WNBA arena. It contains 10,000 seats. It’s economical and gives us a ruckus environment, a home-court charge.
Borders said they want to get it right, to get the product in the ideal-sized buildings. The league hired an innovation and brand consulting firm, coming up with a five-year play, estimating venues and their sizes.