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'We’re going to make like 10 trips here': Fever fans travel near and far to see Caitlin Clark

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Posted at 11:31 PM, May 16, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever played their first home game of the regular season Thursday. The sell-out game brought fans from across the country who wanted to see their favorite player Caitlin Clark, in action.

Some of those fans took the skies and hit the road to watch number 22 play for the Fever.

"I grew up in Iowa and she [her daughter] was born in Iowa, and we used to live there. We just became huge fans of Caitlin once we saw her play,” said Emily Ciccariello.

Ciccariello and her daughter, Aria, now live in Massachusetts.

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Indiana Fever Fans at Home Opener

Ciccariello surprised her daughter after winning free tickets and a trip to Indy from Vivid Seats.

For the competition submission on the 'Clark Effect' Ciccariello said she talked about the impact Clark's had on her and her daughter first-hand.

“I just talked about how special it’s been to be able to see someone from my home state do something so incredible,"

The excitement over Clark also brought Dan and Dawn Bliss to Indy Thursday.

The couple are fans from Iowa and Hawkeye season ticket holders.

They traveled six hours each way just to see Clark play.

"When she decided to come to the Fever, we got half of the season tickets immediately and we’re going to make like 10 trips over here to see the Fever play,” said Dan Bliss.

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Dawn and Dan Bliss traveled from Iowa

They were among thousands of fans at the sold-out game.

A local sports tourism expert said the 'Clark Effect' has changed the game on many level.

Dr. David Pierce is the director of the Sports Innovation Institute at IU Indinapolis and said fans coming to watch Clark and the Fever games are different than some of the other big sporting events.

"I think what is unique about Caitlin Clark is there's the opportunity to have almost the same number of net new visitors to the city, but you know, spreading it out over the course of the season,” he explained. "There's a different group, it's a different trip, it's a different kind of target market than some of these other events.”

He said the season could draw in at least 50,000 visitors to Indianapolis.

WATCH | Caitlin Clark's impact on tourism

Caitlin Clark's impact on tourism

Many of those fans who attended Thursday's home-opener talked about how Clark is also helping elevate the game.

"We're just enjoying it. I think it's really special. I enjoy basketball a lot and I just like watching Caitlin, I think she's smooth,” said Dawn Bliss.

Fans believe Clark is inspiring fans like six-year-old Aria all across the country on and off the court.

The Ciccariello’s said Clark replied to a letter they wrote, which Aria now has framed on her bedroom wall with a special message.

"We talk about it a lot when things get hard, we saw what would Caitlin Clark,” said Ciccariello.

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Indiana Fever Fans at Home Opener

“Never give up,” added her Aria.

The Indiana Fever fell to the New York Liberty 102-66.

They take on the Liberty again Saturday, May 18 at 1:00 p.m.