One of the W.N.B.A.’s unique franchises may quickly have a brand new proprietor. An funding group led by the billionaire Joseph C. Tsai, who accomplished the acquisition of a 49 % stake within the Nets in April, is near an settlement to buy the Liberty, in line with an individual briefed on the negotiations who was not approved to remark publicly.
The Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the Liberty in addition to the Knicks, the Rangers and Madison Square Garden itself, introduced 14 months in the past that it was in search of to promote the workforce. It mentioned the workforce had misplaced cash in every year of its existence, a deficit of greater than $100 million in complete. After taking part in its first 21 seasons on the Garden, the Liberty spent final season within the decidedly much less glamorous Westchester County Center in White Plains.
It just isn’t but clear whether or not Tsai’s group will search to rebrand the Liberty or have them play elsewhere. The W.N.B.A. season begins in May, and the workforce’s schedule at present has them taking part in their house video games in White Plains.
In response to a request for remark, the Madison Square Garden Company pointed to a press release it had given beforehand: “MSG is continuing to work closely with the W.N.B.A. to find the right steward for the team moving forward.”
The Associated Press first reported information of the potential sale.
Tsai, a lawyer who was born in Taiwan, co-founded the Alibaba Group, a Chinese web titan specializing in e-commerce, the place he’s the manager vice chairman. His buying the Liberty would proceed a development of investing in New York cultural establishments: In addition to having an possession stake within the Nets, Tsai and his spouse are main donors to Lincoln Center and the Harlem Academy. Tsai additionally owns the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League.
The Liberty are one of many three unique W.N.B.A. groups nonetheless in existence, together with the Los Angeles Sparks and the Washington Mystics. They have been to 4 W.N.B.A. finals however have by no means received a championship.
Last season the workforce completed 7-27, lacking the playoffs, and had the worst attendance within the league. After averaging practically 10,000 followers a recreation of their final season on the Garden, the Liberty averaged simply 2,823 per recreation final yr.