One of many W.N.B.A.’s authentic franchises might 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 keeping with an individual briefed on the negotiations who was not approved to remark publicly.
The Madison Sq. Backyard Firm, which owns the Liberty in addition to the Knicks, the Rangers and Madison Sq. Backyard itself, introduced 14 months in the past that it was looking for to promote the staff. It mentioned the staff had misplaced cash in every year of its existence, a deficit of greater than $100 million in whole. After taking part in its first 21 seasons on the Backyard, the Liberty spent final season within the decidedly much less glamorous Westchester County Heart in White Plains.
It 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 Could, and the staff’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 Sq. Backyard Firm pointed to a press release it had given beforehand: “MSG is continuous to work carefully with the W.N.B.A. to search out the best steward for the staff transferring ahead.”
The Related Press first reported information of the potential sale.
Tsai, a lawyer who was born in Taiwan, co-founded the Alibaba Group, a Chinese language web titan specializing in e-commerce, the place he’s the chief vice chairman. His buying the Liberty would proceed a development of investing in New York cultural establishments: Along with having an possession stake within the Nets, Tsai and his spouse are main donors to Lincoln Heart and the Harlem Academy. Tsai additionally owns the San Diego Seals of the Nationwide Lacrosse League.
The Liberty are one of many three authentic W.N.B.A. groups nonetheless in existence, together with the Los Angeles Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury. They’ve been to 4 W.N.B.A. finals however have by no means received a championship.
Final season the staff completed 7-27, lacking the playoffs, and had the worst attendance within the league. After averaging almost 10,000 followers a sport of their final season on the Backyard, the Liberty averaged simply 2,823 per sport final yr.