NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Madison Square Garden has put the New York Liberty up for sale.
In a statement Tuesday, MSG Chairman and CEO James Dolan announced he is actively searching for a new owner to take over immediate operations of the team, one of the league’s eight founding franchises. Dolan is the only original owner still involved in the WNBA, which began play in 1997.
“We have been a strong and vocal advocate for the Liberty and the WNBA since the beginning,” Dolan said. “As the last original owner, I am proud of how far the league has come, and the role we have played in its growth. 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.”
The Liberty have reached the playoffs in 15 of their 21 seasons but have never won a WNBA championship. They played in four of the first six WNBA Finals but have not been back since 2002.
In his statement, Dolan made his case for why the new owner should keep the team in New York.
“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,’’ Dolan said. “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.”
Since NBA Hall of Famer and former Knicks president and coach Isiah Thomas took over as team president in 2015, the Liberty have qualified for the postseason and won the Eastern Conference all three years.
“I would like to thank Isiah, and the Liberty players and coaching staff, who have made great progress in strengthening and growing the franchise,’’ Dolan said. “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.”