Joseph Tsai has reportedly agreed to purchase the WNBA’s New York Liberty, potentially marking the latest foray into professional sports for the minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is reportedly leading an investment group that has agreed to purchase the Liberty from Madison Square Garden Company. This would come after the billionaire finalized a significant investment in a professional basketball franchise last year, when he purchased a 49% stake in the Nets.
The WNBA Board of Governors recently gave its approval to the sale, according to a report from the AP:
The sale must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors. The people familiar with the sale said Monday the WNBA Board of Governors gave its approval in the last few days. Those speaking to the AP did so on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made….
Liberty owner James Dolan put the team up for sale in November 2017. There had been several potential buyers, with a few close to a purchase. But the deals fell through for various reasons.
The Liberty said before last season the team had “lost money every year since its inception and cumulative losses exceed $100 million.”
Part of the WNBA since its inaugural 1997 season, the Liberty had played at Madison Square Garden for most of its history. However, the club’s home games were shifted to the smaller Westchester County Center in suburban White Plains beginning last season. The team is slated to return there for 2019.
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