Manhattan Borough president is calling a foul on Madison Square Garden’s decision to boot the New York Liberty to the ’burbs.
The team is owned by MSG, and has played there for years. But as the company seeks to sell the Liberty, it announced this season’s home games will be at the tiny Westchester County Center.
“In doing so, you have turned ‘the World’s Most Famous Arena’ into the world’s most famous stage for unfairly benching women athletes,” Gale Brewer wrote to MSG honcho James Dolan.
And, she warned, the company could be endangering its tax abatement, which saves the company $ 50 million a year and will be up for renewal in a few years.
“I and many of my colleagues in the City Council and State Legislature have never been convinced that this abatement constitutes good policy,” Brewer wrote.
“Shameful actions like this one, banishing a popular women’s professional sports team where its fan base cannot reach it, do not help your case.”
While the WNBA has struggled for wide appeal, Brewer said the Liberty is a “storied, decades-old (franchise) with a dedicated fanbase” — which boosted its attendance in 2017, when about half of the team’s home games drew at least 10,000 people to the Garden.
Even if the team were to move — it played at the Prudential Center in Newark when MSG was under renovations — the Westchester County Center is an “inadequate, inappropriate choice,” she said — it’s “not a full-featured sports arena.”
It can seat only 5,000 people, and is located 30 miles from midtown Manhattan, reachable only by car or Metro-North.
“Though I’m no expert, it seems straightforward that moving the team’s games to the Westchester County Center will make your intended sale of the team harder, not easier,” she wrote.
“And regardless of your intent to sell, it’s a stretch to imagine you or any other sports franchise owner making such a decision in the case of a men’s team.”
In a statement, the Madison Square Garden Company noted it was the last original owner in the WNBA, and called itself “one of women’s basketball’s most loyal partners.”
“Since announcing our intention to sell the team, we have been committed to finding the right new owner to steward the franchise into the future,” a company spokesman said.
“We believe the Westchester County Center is the right sized venue to create an exciting environment for the Liberty and its fans, and the financial structure to support the team’s long-term success.”
The team will play “select games” at the Garden, MSG said.
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