New York Liberty to be sold, Madison Square Garden Company looking for a buyer of original WNBA franchise
The Madison Square Garden Company announced that is plans to sell its original WNBA franchise, the New York Liberty. According to a release “MSG is committed to identifying new ownership that will continue to grow the team, and is actively seeking a buyer to take over immediate operations of the franchise.” Last month, the San Antonio Stars franchise was sold to MGM Resorts International and the team relocated to Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas ownership hired former New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer as president of basketball operations and head coach. Katie Smith, an associate head coach under Laimbeer, took over as head coach of the Liberty.
“We have been a strong and vocal advocate for the Liberty and the WNBA since the beginning. As the last original owner, I am proud of how far the league has come, and the role we have played in its growth,” said Jim Dolan, executive chairman and chief executive officer of The Madison Square Garden Company. “This was a difficult decision for us, which we made after carefully assessing the needs of our business. We are confident that new ownership can build on the foundation we established over these last 21 years, and steward this incredible franchise into an even more successful future.”
From the MSG release:
Established in 1996 as one of the WNBA’s original eight franchises, the Liberty has been at the center of women’s professional basketball since the start, becoming one of the league’s most enduring and popular teams. With its compelling historical association with the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty has embodied the relentless spirit of New York City since its inception. Over its history, the team has showcased some of the league’s biggest stars, who displayed athleticism, professionalism and a commitment to the community that has won legions of loyal fans. And with a home that is also the world’s largest media market, it is expected that new ownership will realize the benefits of having the team remain in New York.
Mr. Dolan continued: “I would like to thank Isiah, and the Liberty players and coaching staff, who have made great progress in strengthening and growing the franchise. Under Isiah’s leadership, the team has broadened its roster of top sponsors, increased its passionate fanbase, and developed a solid team built for long-term competitiveness. The Liberty now presents a tremendous opportunity for a new owner to bring new resources, creativity and focus to ensure the team becomes an enduring success.”
The Liberty has been a strong franchise in the league throughout its history. It is second in the league in all-time wins. The Liberty has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in 15 of its 21 seasons, and has made four trips to the WNBA Finals. With an all-time regular season record of 371-325 (.533), the team has had some of its most successful results over the last three regular seasons, when it finished first in the Eastern Conference and netted more than 20 wins three years in a row.