Leistikow: The latest on Iowa women's basketball season ticket sales for 2023-24

Chad Leistikow
Des Moines Register

The Iowa women’s basketball program set a Big Ten Conference record for home attendance this past season, with an average of 11,143 fans per game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

That record is about to get smashed into oblivion.

The Hawkeyes’ national-championship game run and the celebrity draw of megastar Caitlin Clark has sent ticket demand skyrocketing to the point where the University of Iowa has paused season-ticket sales for 2023-24, as it tries to get a handle on unprecedented demand.

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“We’re going to do our best so that those fans who want to support women’s basketball at Iowa get that opportunity,” said Matt Henderson, Iowa’s deputy director of athletics for external relations who oversees ticket sales.

Here, in a nutshell, is why the pause was instituted.

Iowa’s season-ticket base for women’s basketball last season was 6,500 tickets. Across all sports at Iowa, in most years, the renewal rate is 90% or higher for season tickets. Considering the success enjoyed by Lisa Bluder and Co. this past season, if that renewal rate isn’t in the ballpark of 100%, that would be a shock. As Henderson outlined, current season ticket holders will have first dibs on seats for next year’s action.

But on top of existing season ticket holders, the university had already received new season-ticket requests for 6,700 seats in 2023-24 as of Tuesday. Henderson said half of that figure swelled between the Sweet 16 and Final Four run for the Hawkeyes. That right there shows the current enthusiasm for women’s basketball, as if there was any question after enormous Hawkeye turnouts in Minneapolis (for the Big Ten Tournament), Seattle (for the Sweet 16) and Dallas (for the Final Four).

Add existing season tickets with new requests, and the number totals 13,200. Carver-Hawkeye’s women’s basketball capacity was 15,056 last season. The 13,200 wouldn’t count student tickets or allotments set aside for visiting teams. Plus, the university needs to set aside seats for special events (one example would be women’s basketball alumni day) that wouldn’t be possible if Iowa sold, say, 14,500 season tickets (which it seems like it easily could, given current and expected demand).

Additionally, it’s possible that the number of existing season tickets could grow beyond 6,500. The university plans to evaluate scenarios that would allow current season ticket holders to expand their allotment. For example, if a current ticketholder wants to expand the number of seats that he/she has from four to six, the university would consider that request before moving on to the new requests for season tickets.

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Those with higher season-ticket priority points based on donation history and other factors – much like in football – will be moved to the front of the line among those making new ticket requests. Henderson said if the university is able to identify ticket brokers, they’ll typically deny those requests.

“We want to get as many season tickets into the hands of those who have a passion for attending women’s basketball and Hawkeye athletic events,” Henderson said.

How much are Iowa women's basketball season tickets?

The cost of a 2022-23 women’s season ticket was $125 for adults, $90 for senior citizens and $30 for youths (18 and under). That’s quite a steal for the opportunity to watch a generational talent like Clark play 16 regular-season home games, considering that a single seat for one game at the Final Four was tough to get on the resale market for under $400.

The university said it has not set pricing for the 2023-24 season. Considering the demand, expect prices to go up. But Henderson did say they want to make sure pricing is still family-friendly going forward; that’s been the bread and butter for the Iowa women’s team regularly having large and enthusiastic crowds. Since 2008, Iowa has a 230-42 record at home. Iowa went 17-1 at home last season, including two NCAA Tournament wins.

During the pause, the university will come up with a maximum number of season tickets it’ll sell; same for student tickets. Eventually, current season ticket holders will get first crack at making their seat selections for next season. Then, those who have made deposits on new tickets will get their chance. Much like an NFL season ticket waitlist, there’s no guarantee everybody who made a deposit will secure season tickets.

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Even Hawkeye football, which sold out every game last season at Kinnick Stadium, didn’t run into this kind of ticket conundrum. The season only sold out after multi-game and single-game tickets were put up for sale, and that happened a month before the season. With women’s basketball, we’re talking about a potential season sellout seven-plus months from the early-November season opener.

Iowa women's basketball had tremendous crowds this past season, including in the regular-season finale vs. No. 2 Indiana in which Caitlin Clark (22) made a last-second 3-pointer to win.

My two cents: If you miss out on season tickets for next season, try to snap up tickets for a home game or two via single-game sales when those are released.

Or … go all-in on a few nearby road games. Those are crazy-fun and, as we saw this past season, Iowa fans will turn out in big numbers on the road. Even in a Pacific Northwest outpost like Seattle, the atmosphere was electric, thanks to a large turnout of Hawkeye fans.

Clearly, the Caitlin Clark experience is one that fans of all ages in Iowa are ready to savor.

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 28 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.