Dreaming of a sellout for home opener

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When the Atlanta Dream takes to the floor of Philips Arena on Friday, they will do so to the roar of a sellout crowd.

Well, kind of.

Bill Bolen, the team’s president, announced Wednesday that all 10,039 tickets for the 7:30 p.m. game against the Detroit Shock had been sold, thus a sellout.

The trouble with that is the listed capacity of the nine-year-old arena: 18,729. Just ask the Hawks, who managed to squeeze in 20,425 screaming fans for Game Six of their first-round series with the Celtics earlier this month.

Turns out the Dream, in a pretty astute marketing move, are closing off the upper levels of the arena, pushing fans closer to the court and eliminating the additional seats. Having watched Hawks games from the nosebleed section, I applaud the move. It stinks to sit up there. Condensing the fans should also add to the buzz and excitement of the games this season.

The move also deals with the reality that WNBA teams don’t fill their arenas. But drawing more than 10,000 fans to the Dream’s home opener is a strong start and has to be encouraging to team brass.

Friday marks the Dream’s home opener. They play again on Sunday, with less than 1,000 tickets left for the game against the Los Angeles Sparks. That matchup features Candace Parker, the former Lady Vol who enjoyed a sizable fan base here during a May 3 preseason game.

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