Mercury's Leilani Mitchell (5) and Brittany Griner (42) double-team Liberty's Tina Charles (31) during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz. on Aug. 19, 2018.

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James Dolan Officially Sells New York Liberty To Nets Owner

January 23, 2019 - 12:08 pm
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By WFAN.com

James Dolan's days as owner of the New York Liberty are officially over. 

Dolan had owned the Liberty since they were founded in 1997, but on Wednesday the WNBA announced that the team had been sold to Brooklyn Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai. Tsai owns 49 percent of the Nets, a share he bought last April.

Tsai is a billionaire and the co-founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. He joined Philadelphia 76ers' owner Michael Rubin's attempt to buy the Carolina Panthers last year, and he also owns the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League.

The WNBA regular season is set to begin in May. Westchester County Center will be the home of the Liberty for the 2019 campaign, but there is a possiblity for future games at the Barclays Center. There is a plan to host at least one game there this coming season. 

The Liberty have never won the WNBA Finals despite being one of the original eight franchises in the league. They won four conference titles during Dolan's tenure as owner.

The team dropped from fourth in attendance in 2017 to last in the league last season, averaging 2,823 fans. That number was even smaller when the two kids' day games at MSG were taken out, with an average of just 1,886 fans coming to the 15 Westchester dates. The Liberty couldn't routinely fill the arena, which was configured to hold only 2,319 fans.

Improved play on the court could help draw more fans. The Liberty struggled last season, finishing with the second-worst record in the league. They have the No. 2 pick in the WNBA draft in April.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.