Liberty officially announce move to Barclays Center starting with 2020 season

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

The $64,000 question everyone was asking about the New York Liberty ever since the sale to Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai was answered this week.

New York’s WNBA team is returning to New York City.

When the 2020 season takes place, teams and fans heading to Liberty games will no longer have to endure a 45-minute to hour drive or train north to Westchester County as the team announced Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the new full-time home of the Liberty.

Barclays is the fourth arena the Liberty have called home, following Westchester, Madison Square Garden and the Prudential Center in Newark where the team played for three seasons while MSG was undergoing a renovation.

The move to the more accessible Barclays will more than likely do wonders for helping both Liberty and WNBA attendance. New York finished last in attendance in both seasons at the County Center with the team averaging just over 2,000 fans per home contest.

That 2,000 was a far distance from the numbers New York was drawing at the more accessible Madison Square Garden when the Liberty were up there with the Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx in terms of attendance.

The Liberty played one regular season game at Barclays in the 2019 season (in addition to the preseason tilt against the Chinese national team) – an Aug. 11 game with the Seattle Storm. The Storm topped the Libs 84-69, but nearly 8,000 fans showed up at Atlantic and Flatbush for a team that had not played a consistent schedule in the boroughs since 2017 and had not been playing the same winning basketball Lib Loyals are accustomed to seeing.

There was no shortage of stories pertaining to Liberty fans that felt abandoned during the Westchester years. It showed in attendance to the County Center and it showed with fan morale. The Liberty’s trying years at Westchester have concluded at last.

New York’s much ballyhooed Barclays announcement came on the heels of the team announcing that it would not renew Katie Smith’s contract, meaning the Liberty become the second team this offseason to part ways with its head coach following Indiana letting go of Pokey Chatman.

Smith was put into a maelstrom of a situation when she assumed the head coaching duties from Bill Laimbeer who went west to Las Vegas given the uncertainty about the MSG sale and move to Westchester. In her two years as head coach, New York went an un-Liberty like 17-51 and were a lottery team both seasons.

The Liberty drafted Asia Durr out of Louisville with the second overall pick of the 2019 WNBA draft. New York will have the first overall selection in the 2020 draft which will likely be Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu.

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