After two seasons playing in Westchester County, the New York Liberty have a new home. Starting in 2020, the team will be playing its 17 home games at the Barclays Center.
Bleacher Report's Arielle Chambers was the first to break the news:
I WILL RELAY THE GREAT NEWS!!!! In 2020, the @nyliberty will play in Barclays! YASSSS!!! They deserveeeee!!!!— Arielle (Ari) Chambers (@ariivory) October 17, 2019
The team shortly put out a press release that included this quote from new Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO David Levy:
“We are committed to the Liberty’s long-term success in New York and relocating the team to Brooklyn will provide the franchise with tremendous opportunity,”
With many of our fans based in the five boroughs, moving to Barclays Center will make the Liberty more centrally located, allowing us to bring back the original fan base and attract new supporters. The venue change, along with the first pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, has positioned the team for an exciting future.
Levy told AP’s Doug Feinberg that he expects the Liberty will become a money maker with the move. James Dolan sold the team to Joe Tsai last January. Tsai owns the Liberty, Barclays Center and the Nets.
“We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t think it would be profitable,” Levy said.
Bria Hartley, the Liberty point guard, tweeted out her thoughts early on.
Brooklyn, what’s good!! So excited that the New York Liberty will be playing at Barclays next summer. It’s Lit !! @nyliberty @brooklynnets @wnba #nyliberty #brooklynnets #wnba #nba @ Barclays Center https://t.co/uOQfRAf0Rm— Bria Hartley (@Breezyyy14) October 17, 2019
And the Nets welcomed their co-tenants to Brooklyn.
IT'S ALL GOOD BABY BABY https://t.co/lwYszhXeZD— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 17, 2019
The move fulfills one big goal of Tsai who controls the team through his J Tsai Sports. Since he took over the team, Tsai spoke about how Westchester County Center was not a suitable venue for professional basketball. By bringing the Liberty back to New York City, Tsai and the ownership group will be increasing the amount of access fans have to the team as well as making the gameday experience more palatable for home and away players.
Moreover, the move will help the WNBA which is facing a myriad of issues, including upcoming negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. With the Liberty in Madison Square Garden before their move to Westchester, the team would attract 10,000 fans per game. In Westchester, the number shrank by 75 to 80 percent. The Libs played one game at Barclays Center this season and drew 7,715 fans with little publicity.
“The New York Liberty are part of the foundation of the W and have many of the most accomplished players and passionate fans since the inaugural season,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “Barclays Center is the perfect venue to host New York’s team and showcase world-class women’s basketball. This move is key to driving the league to the next level.”
The new home is just the latest in a series of changes as well. On October 16th, the team announced Katie Smith will not be returning as head coach. They'll also have the number one pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft next spring, where they're expected to draft Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, a point guard.
One change that won’t be happening. Levy said Tsai has no plans to change the team’s name.
“We thought about it, but that’s a storied franchise and it was one of the original teams, one of the most well-known WNBA teams.” said Levy. “Why would you change that name? A lot of fans love that brand name.”
- APNewsBreak: Liberty to play at Barclays starting in 2020 - Doug Feinberg - AP
- New York Liberty relocates to Barclays Center - J.T. Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- New York Liberty Announce Barclays Center As Home Venue Beginning In 2020 - New York Liberty
- WNBA Liberty to leave Westchester County Center - Mark Lungariello - LoHud.com
- As the Liberty move to Barclays Center, they declare a commitment to winning ‘at all costs’ - Erica Ayala - The Athletic WNBA
- Liberty’s move to Nets’ Barclays Center will provide a boost for entire WNBA - Cassandra Negley - Yahoo! Sports