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New York Liberty set to make Barclays Center permanent home

The New York Liberty will officially be moving to Brooklyn in 2020. It’s the latest in a series of changes that the franchise’s new ownership hopes will give the team a clear identity and direction.

Seattle Storm v New York Liberty
Get ready to see plenty more of this! The New York Liberty are officially Brooklyn-bound.
Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Liberty will now be playing its home games at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the team announced Thursday. The venue change will take effect at the beginning of the 2020 season.

Ever since the Liberty were put up for sale by James Dolan and the Madison Square Garden Company in late 2017, the state of the franchise has been in flux. While waiting for a buyer, the Company relocated the Liberty from Madison Square Garden to the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York — a move that upset many longtime fans. The team played a handful of games at MSG and the Barclays Center during this span, but the vast majority were at Westchester, a facility ill-equipped to house a professional basketball team or accommodate a large fanbase.

Now — under control Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai — the Liberty will once again be playing their home games in a professional arena. The team will keep its New York moniker, per Liberty COO Keia Clarke.

While the move to Barclays was sorely needed from a logistics perspective, it also represents a rebirth of sorts for the Liberty franchise. Head coach Katie Smith was fired just two days prior to the arena announcement, a move that many believe should have waited, given the Liberty’s trajectory as a team and unfavorable home court situation.

Clarke claimed that there was “no rhyme or reason” to the timing of Smith’s dismissal, while general manager Jonathan Kolb gave the often-used “different direction” answer.

Regardless of the reasons behind the Liberty’s coaching upheaval, it’s hard not to conjoin this week’s events as a soft reset of the franchise — one that would prefer to put a 17-51 record over the past two seasons behind it as quickly as possible. Moving on from both Westchester and Smith is a fresh start for a once-proud franchise fighting to remain respectable in today’s WNBA landscape.

Brooklyn and Barclays will provide just that: a jolt of respectability. The Liberty once again have a stable home court, one that is modern, accessible and provides the optics a professional basketball team deserves.