Joseph Tsai, Alibaba co-founder and minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets, is closing in on a deal to acquire the New York Liberty, per Doug Feinberg and the Associated Press.
A person, who chose to speak on the condition of anonymity, is familiar with the deal and informed the AP on Wednesday.
A spokesperson with the Nets declined on-record comment to High Post Hoops when asked about the report.
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Original Liberty owner James Dolan announced his intention to sell in November of 2017. Since then, several deals have fallen through. Before the 2018 season, when the Liberty played at Madison Square Garden, Dolan assertes that the franchise lost upwards of $100 million over his tenure. Last year, most of the home games were played at Westchester County Center to cut back on expenses, along with slicing the crowd size considerably and drawing the ire of many players and coaches around the league over the facilities.
With Tsai now in the mix, it seems far less likely the Liberty would leave New York. Games could be played at the Barclays Center, although Feinberg notes that “with dates locked in, it could be difficult to move games to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center if that’s what the new ownership group wanted.”
As of right now, the Liberty’s home is still up in the air. There is no official word on whether Tsai would keep the Liberty in New York, move the team to Barclays or even to Nassau Coliseum, where the Nets’ G-League team plays. Both arenas are owned by Mikhail Prokhorov’s BSE Global.
Regardless of what arena is decided on, thank goodness for Mr. Tsai.
The Liberty averaged fewer than 3,000 fans last season in what could be considered a glorified high school gym. Things haven’t necessarily been glamorous all around for either the team or front office. And although more wins will certainly help New York’s case on the attendance front, Brooklyn is still a perfect market to build a WNBA fanbase. There is untapped potential there.
When people like Tsai step up in the midst of struggle, it says a lot. It says that the New York Liberty is worth the investment—and assuredly, it won’t happen overnight, but they will be in a matter of time.