Photographer: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Madison Square Garden to Sell Its WNBA Franchise

  • Women’s pro basketball team one of 8 original WNBA franchises
  • Move comes one day after Madison Square Garden CEO steps down

Madison Square Garden Co. announced plans to sell its WNBA franchise, one day after the company’s chief executive officer suddenly resigned.

The company is “actively seeking a buyer” for the New York Liberty women’s basketball team, according to a statement Tuesday. “This was a difficult decision for us, which we made after carefully assessing the needs of our business,” Executive Chairman James Dolan said.

James Dolan

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The Liberty sale plans suggest that Dolan is shaking things up at Madison Square Garden after the departure of CEO David “Doc” O’Connor on Monday. The company, which owns basketball’s New York Knicks and hockey’s New York Rangers, didn’t explain why O’Connor left.

The Dolan family, cable-TV tycoons who acquired the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden in a 1994 deal, are exiting the WNBA after two decades. The Liberty are one of the original eight franchises in women’s professional basketball and the team is second in the league in all-time wins.

Many WNBA teams lose money and are subsidized by the men’s league and its more lucrative TV contracts. Last month, MGM Resorts International bought the San Antonio Stars for an undisclosed amount. The team will move to Las Vegas next year. 

Madison Square Garden’s stock has soared with the valuation of the Knicks as other National Basketball Association teams such as the Houston Rockets have changed hands in multibillion-dollar deals. The shares slid less than 1 percent to $224.17 at 11:57 a.m. in New York but are up 31 percent this year.

— With assistance by Eben Novy-Williams

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