The New York Liberty, one of the W.N.B.A.’s unique groups, has a brand new proprietor. The league introduced Wednesday that “an entity owned by Joe Tsai and his household” bought the Liberty from the Madison Square Garden Company, which had owned the staff for its whole 22-year existence.
Tsai is a Taiwanese-Canadian businessman who made billions as co-founder of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese web titan. He additionally owns 49 % of the Brooklyn Nets. The sale has been extensively anticipated since reviews of it emerged two weeks in the past.
The buy value was not disclosed.
“As one of New York’s proudest franchises, the Liberty has played a vital role in New York City over the past 22 years,” Tsai stated in the assertion asserting the sale.
When the W.N.B.A. common season begins in May, the Liberty will play their house video games at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, the place they moved final 12 months after enjoying for 20 years at Madison Square Garden. They will even play one recreation at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
After the season, the Liberty’s future is unknown. The staff may play alongside the Nets at Barclays Center. The Long Island Nets, an N.B.A. developmental staff, play at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, so that could be a chance. The staff may additionally stay in Westchester or elsewhere in the New York metropolitan space.
It can also be not but recognized whether or not Tsai will search to vary the staff’s title, or what plans he might must revive curiosity in the Liberty, whose attendance fell to final place in the league final season. The Westchester County Center was configured to carry 2,319 individuals, however the Liberty averaged simply 1,886 followers for its 15 video games there, in accordance with The Associated Press. Before the transfer to Westchester final season, the Liberty had been usually averaging greater than 9,000 followers per recreation at the Garden.
A spokeswoman for Tsai declined to make him obtainable for an interview.
The W.N.B.A.’s launch asserting the sale got here from Mark Tatum, the deputy commissioner of the N.B.A. who’s serving double-duty as the W.N.B.A.’s interim president. Lisa Borders, who led the league for 3 seasons, left in October to become the chief executive of Time’s Up, an advocacy group for women.
Three weeks after Borders left, the union representing W.N.B.A. players announced it was opting out of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which was set to expire in 2021. Instead, the agreement will terminate on Oct. 31 of this year, after the season, and negotiations are expected to be contentious.
Players have been vocal about their low pay and wanting to improving working conditions in the next collective bargaining agreement. Many W.N.B.A. stars play in Europe during the off-season, where they earn more money. The Las Vegas Aces pulled out of a game last season after they were forced to spend 25 hours traveling.
The league will likely push back hard. When the Madison Square Garden Company announced it was putting the Liberty up for sale in 2017, it claimed to have lost more than $100 million operating the team over the previous two decades.
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