The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors have unanimously approved the purchase of the New York Liberty by an entity owned by Joe Tsai and his family, WNBA Interim President Mark Tatum announced this week. Mr. Tsai is 49% minority owner and alternate Governor of the Brooklyn Nets.
“We are fortunate to welcome Joe Tsai to the WNBA family at a pivotal time for our league,” said Tatum. “We thank Jim Dolan and The Madison Square Garden Company for their incredible support of the WNBA over the past 22 years and for their commitment to finding the right owner for the Liberty. As active participants in the New York community, Joe and his team are very well-positioned to take the Liberty to exciting new heights.”
The team will resume play in New York this May when the regular season begins. The team’s home arena for the 2019 season will remain the Westchester County Center. In the summer, the Liberty will host a Comm-UNITY Day celebrating community, diversity and inclusion at a to-be-announced game hosted at Barclays Center.
“It is an honor and a privilege to join the Liberty and WNBA families,” said Mr. Tsai. “As one of New York’s proudest franchises, the Liberty has played a vital role in New York City over the past 22 years. The Liberty and WNBA exemplify what it means to compete at the highest level, serve as role models in the local community, and bring greater opportunities to female athletes. Our goal is to continue this important work and help bring the WNBA into its next phase of growth.”
Through their charitable foundation, Mr. Tsai and his wife Clara have been supporting New York institutions through philanthropy and local programs, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, NYC Police Foundation’s youth mentorship program, criminal justice reform through the Reform Alliance, and K-8 education through Harlem Academy.
One of the most storied franchises in WNBA history, the Liberty began play as one of the WNBA’s eight original teams and took part in the league’s inaugural game, defeating the Los Angeles Sparks, 67-57, at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, on June 21, 1997. Throughout the team’s history, some of the league’s most celebrated players have taken the court for the Liberty, including Rebecca Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon, Cappie Pondexter, and Tina Charles.
“As the proud owner of the Liberty for the past 22 years, we are pleased that Joe Tsai will now guide the franchise with a commitment to serving its loyal and passionate fans in New York,” said Jim Dolan, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Madison Square Garden Company. “We will always be Liberty fans and extend Joe and the entire WNBA our best wishes for future success.”