Earlier this month, Emma Meesseman represented Belgium in EuroBasket Women 2019 qualifiers where she dominated in their first two games. The second game was against Germany in Kortrijk, West Flanders where they won 103-60.
You can watch ALL the Meesseman and-one’s and fast breaks in this video above by Joy, a Belgian YouTuber, albeit from a different vantage point.
In the video, Joy sat in her VIP seats with an up close view of the game action. We already talked about how Meesseman was in the qualifiers, so you can click here for that.
But there is one takeaway from the video that applies to the Mystics and the Wizards G League team. That’s because the G-League team will play at the 4,200 seat St. Elizabeth’s East Arena in 2018, while the Mystics will move there in 2019.
A small, but full arena creates a bigger homecourt advantage
There isn’t much speaking in the video, besides the announcer who speaks only in Dutch, because they’re playing in Flanders. But you don’t have to know the lyrics to “De Brabançonne” (the Belgian national anthem) to get the point that this crowd was loud, and cheering for the home team from start to finish.
Watching Joy’s video from her vantage point is a bit different than watching a stream of the game. You see the fans clapping in unison, doing the wave together. And yes, the crowd was singing “De Brabançonne” together like an NHL team’s crowd does for the “Star Spangled Banner” or “O Canada.”
I was honestly impressed with the energy the crowd had. It was probably louder than the video. The fans weren’t going to let the Belgian national team lose that game, even if Belgium was “actively trying to lose the game” like the Sixers were last night against the Wizards when Hack-a-Simmons worked against them!
So I have two questions, one for the Mystics and another for the G League team.
Can the Mystics convince the fanbase that a smaller arena can work?
Many Mystics fans feel slighted that they are moving to a facility that will be the WNBA’s smallest and that Monumental Sports & Entertainment has a sinister intent behind it.
I disagree. Ted Leonsis has been quite vocal about WNBA media rights, and Elena Delle Donne wouldn’t be in Washington if she believed that Leonsis had a grand vision of the franchise. In a Marie Claire interview with Leonsis, she said that Ted is the WNBA’s best owner. And GM/Head Coach Mike Thibault also believes a smaller arena would create a bigger homecourt advantage as well.
Should Meesseman be available more often than not over the next few years, she and Delle Donne should become the WNBA’s premier frontcourt duo. They already had their moments last season. If the Mystics can play in front of a crowd like the Belgian team did, even if it’s a smaller audience, I’d be for it.
Can the G League team get the same type of buzz when they open shop?
NBA teams are inevitably going to look at their G-League affiliates as development centers for the senior club, not revenue centers. But that doesn’t mean that the G-League team should just be playing games in front of empty audiences every night.
Besides, the G-League team is going to be playing at St. Elizabeth’s before the Mystics do. I want to see them give a strong first impression. not just with their play, but with their fans as well.
I hope that this team will get a solid base of season ticket holders in year one. The G League team’s tickets will be cheaper than the Wizards’, but fans will still get to see a high level game every time.
I also think that fans will get a chance to interact with the G League team a bit more than they do with an NBA team as well. With the right team planning, ticket pricing, and schedule, there’s no reason why a G League team can’t consistently draw a decent crowd for each home game.
Construction of the arena is underway!
If you’re wondering how progress of the arena and the basketball practice facility, which the Mystics, the G-League Team, and the Wizards will share, Events DC has a page where you can watch a time lapse of the construction. The foundation is taking shape!
I think a smaller arena works for a non-Big Four League team like the Mystics and the G-League team, especially when they have the opportunity to do something special. It would be nice to see their crowds as raucous as the Belgian national team’s was just a couple weeks ago.