Dissecting the Liberty’s move to Westchester

The New York Liberty are remaining under the control of Dolan and Madison Square Garden Company for now. The WNBA team was put up for sale in November.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, file)

Last Thursday it was announced that the WNBA team the New York Liberty would be making Westchester County their new home for the 2018 season with all but two home games being played there.

The big announcement comes after it was announced by the Madison Square Garden Company that they will be looking for a new owner for the Liberty. The Madison Square Garden Company said that they will operate the Liberty with its current management and coaching staff while simultaneously searching for a new owner for the franchise.

The Liberty’s new arena is the Westchester County Center located in White Plains New York.

Two 11 a.m. games will be played by the Liberty at Madison Square Garden for the 2018 season. The Liberty will play the Phoenix Mercury and the Seattle Storm at MSG.

As a fan of the New York Liberty, I was heartbroken when I heard the team would be moving to Westchester. The Liberty have played at Madison Square Garden since the WNBA’s inception. A big draw to fans was that they could see a reasonably priced basketball game at MSG during the summer.

I do understand however, why the Liberty needed to leave the Garden. To put it simply, MSG was not close to being filled at any of the games I have attended over the past two seasons. This includes big games against the likes of the defending WNBA champions the Minnesota Lynx.

Madison Square Garden was clearly losing money by allowing the Liberty to play at MSG. The fan base is there but it is not strong enough to pack “the world’s most famous arena.”

What is insulting though is the two games that are being played at MSG in the 2018 season are 11 a.m. games.

At that point the Madison Square Garden Company shouldn’t even give the Liberty MSG. They should either have all the games be played in Westchester or one decent night game be played at MSG. Liberty fans would love a hyped up game against a team like Minnesota to be played at the Garden. But to give them two 11 a.m. games that won’t even fill up a quarter of the arena…that just seems rude.

A question many fans and analysts have asked is if the fan base will be willing to make the trek to a different arena. The answer is undoubtedly yes. WNBA fans are already super dedicated. They love a badly advertised and small league simply because they love high quality basketball. If you think UConn basketball fans are dedicated talk to any WNBA fan and you will discover a whole new type of dedication.

So yes, the Liberty moving to Westchester is a bummer but not a catastrophe. The league has made it thus far because of its loyal fans and this move is no exception.


Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.