The New York Liberty is preparing for its move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for 2020, hoping it will have positive implications on the team and the WNBA as a whole.
In October, it was announced that the Liberty would move home games from the Westchester County Center in suburban White Plains to Barclays Center for the 2020 season. Joe Tsai acquired the Liberty from Madison Square Garden Company in January 2019, months before he purchased Barclays Center and the remaining interest in the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
The Liberty will join the Nets at Barclays Center starting in 2020, an arrangement that should have interesting implications. Along with putting two of Tsai’s teams in the same arena, the move also gives the Liberty a larger venue to work with and a location in Brooklyn that team and league officials are hoping will be leveraged to help build a stronger fan base. More from Fortune:
“In my old world, we said as the New York office went, the whole firm went,” WNBA commissioner Cathly Engelbert said on the significance of the move. “I think the same thing here.”
For the Liberty, it couldn’t have come at a better time. After playing in Madison Square Garden for 20 years, the team—a founding WNBA franchise—was proverbially “banished” by their former ownership group to the Westchester County Center in White Plains two seasons ago—a decision that relegated one of the biggest in-person draws in the WNBA to an arena with a capacity of just over 2,000 fans. In the team’s last season playing at MSG (2017), they drew an average of 9,889 fans per contest (97.7% capacity), according to research conducted by Sports Business Journal.
Now, the organization will have 8,000 seats to work with in the Barclays Center’s lower bowl, with “opportunity to grow,” according to Liberty COO Keia Clark.
“It’s a professional-caliber arena,” Clark said of the advantages of Barclays. “And when you live in a city like New York and you have all of the boroughs and people, again, who have supported throughout the years, it just makes for an easier proposition for us to go to market with.”
The bulk of 2019 home games were played at the Westchester County Center, though the Liberty did stage one preseason contest and one regular-season game at Barclays Center last season.
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