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Liberty to play home games at Barclays Center beginning in 2020 season

Liberty guard Tanisha Wright, center, goes after a

Liberty guard Tanisha Wright, center, goes after a loose ball during the first half of the team's WNBA game against the Storm at Barclays Center on Aug. 11. Credit: AP/Kathy Willens

The Liberty will now call Brooklyn home.

The team announced on Thursday morning that they will play their home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning with the 2020 season.

The Liberty have played the last two seasons at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, which, according to the team, had a capacity of 2,100. The Liberty said in a news release announcing the move that Barclays Center will be able to accommodate more than 8,000 fans with an opportunity for growth.

“We are committed to the Liberty’s long-term success in New York and relocating the team to Brooklyn will provide the franchise with tremendous opportunity,” Brooklyn Nets CEO David Levy said in a statement. “With many of our fans based in the five boroughs, moving to Barclays Center will make the Liberty more centrally located, allowing us to bring back the original fan base and attract new supporters. The venue change, along with the first pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, has positioned the team for an exciting future.”

The Liberty, an original WNBA franchise in 1997, played their home games at Madison Square Garden before the move to the Westchester County Center. They played twice at Barclays last season: a preseason game against the Chinese national team, and a regular-season game against the Seattle Storm that drew a crowd of 7,715.

Joseph Tsai bought the Liberty in January. He had been a Nets minority owner before becoming full owner of the team and Barclays Center last month.

“The New York Liberty are part of the foundation of the W and have many of the most accomplished players and passionate fans since the inaugural season,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “Barclays Center is the perfect venue to host New York’s team and showcase world-class women’s basketball. The move is key to driving the league to the next level.”

The move to Barclays Center appears to be another step in a key transition period for the franchise. The team announced on Wednesday that coach Katie Smith would not have her contract renewed for next season. The Liberty also will have the top pick in the upcoming draft. Oregon star guard Sabrina Ionescu is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick.

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