James Dolan is ready to sell, sell, sell.
But before dancing onto Broadway, take note of this sour caveat: Neither his Rangers nor Knicks are included in the package.
Rather, the impenitent owner is close to unloading the Liberty to Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai, a month after not ruling out selling his two prime properties in a curious interview with ESPN.
“I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks,” Dolan told ESPN. “Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote. … As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either.”
Dolan then walked back his comments hours after publication in a statement that read, “We have no plans to sell the Knicks.”
Meanwhile, Tsai bought a 49 percent interest in the Nets in April. Dolan put the team up for sale in November 2017. There had been several potential buyers and a few had gotten close to purchasing the team over the past 14 months, but all the deals fell through for various reasons.
Liberty said before last season that it had “lost money every year since its inception and cumulative losses exceed $100 million.” The franchise played most of its home games in 2018 at the Westchester County Center, which saved the team a lot of money. Operating costs were nearly 20 times less than playing a game at Madison Square Garden.
The WNBA already has released its schedule for 2019, and the Liberty are set to play in suburban Westchester again, with the two school and camp-day games listed without a venue. With dates locked in, it could be difficult to move games to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center if that’s what the new ownership group wanted.
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 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.
— With The Associated Press