Caitlin Clark to play at Indiana Fever's home opener

Caitlin Clark in her professional debut in Dallas
[Getty Images]

Caitlin Clark, the former college basketball star who recently joined the professional league, is hours away from her first WNBA home game.

In April, Clark was drafted into the Women's National Basketball Association by the Indiana Fever as the first overall pick.

The move was highly anticipated after her collegiate career at the University of Iowa, where she broke dozens of records, men's and women's.

Indiana Fever fans welcome her arrival.

Local media described Thursday night's crowd for the game against the Atlanta Dream as a near sell-out.

Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Fever's home arena in Indianapolis, reportedly increased its seating by opening up an additional third deck in the venue, compared to the two lower decks normally available for Fever games.

It is a familiar pattern for Clark who, since college, has built an increasingly large and loyal fanbase. Iowa played in the NCAA championship but was defeated by University of South Carolina, 87-75.

The game was watched by a record setting 18.7 million viewers.

In college, ticket prices for her games would skyrocket, reaching into the thousands. Fans travelled across the country to see her, filling stadiums.

Her influence has been dubbed the Caitlin Clark Effect, and that appears to have carried over into her professional career.

The Fever drew an average of 4,067 fans to regular-season home games last season, according to the Indiana Business Journal. However, this year, home games are expected to draw crowds over 17,000.

The game on Thursday night is a pre-season game, meaning the outcome will not count toward the season's record.

The Fever lost their first pre-season game against the Dallas Wings on 4 May, with Clark leading the team in scoring.

The first Indiana Fever game of the regular season is scheduled for 15 May in Connecticut. Ticket prices for that game are selling for hundreds of dollars above average.