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New York Liberty pursuing WNBA title after strong season with revamped team, new buzz, and big attendance boost at Barclays

Things are looking up for the WNBA's New York Liberty, who start their first-round playoff series against the Washington Mystics tonight.

After managers and owners assembled a superteam of stars, the Liberty won the Eastern Conference with a 32-8 record, second-best in the league behind the Western Conference's Las Vegas Aces, at 34-6.

Clockwise from top left: Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, 
Sabrina Ionesco, Betnijah Laney, Courtney Vandersloot, 
After a pre-season loss to the defending champion Aces, the Liberty went on to win two of their four regular-season game, plus the their matchup in the WNBA's Commissioner's Cup.

Attendance boost

Over 20 games, the Liberty--which sell only the lower bowl of the Barclays Center--averaged 7,777 attendance, fifth in the league, a huge jump from the 2022 average of 5,327, in 18 games and the new-in-town 2021 average of 1,757.

Forward Breanna Stewart, part of a new superteam, this week was named AP Player of the Year, and to the All-WNBA First Team, while guard Sabrina Ionescu was named to the Second Team.

How Breanna Stewart joining the New York Liberty paid off in wins, ticket sales and TV ratings, The Athletic reported 9/12/23, citing not just the attendance boost but a tripling of season-ticket memberships, a 58 boost in TV ratings, more than doubling e-commerce, and ten new sponors.

The article noted that star Stewart took less than maximum money to get positioned in the New York endorsement market and that the Liberty had upped its outreach to potential fans, for example holding their first-ever West Indian night.

A cheaper night out

So it's been a smart rebuild by owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, recognizing and reaching out to an available market. Tickets aren't cheap, but compared to Nets games they're far less. 

The seat map for tonight, from Ticketmaster
When I checked this morning, there were a handful of tickets for tonight's game under $40, at least before an additional $7.50 "processing fee" from Ticketmaster.

The buzz

Heck, even two plucky new publications have hailed the Liberty. Hell Gate concluded, in an 8/14/23 article by Jamilah King, that The Liberty Have Finally Brought Good Vibes Basketball to the Bad Vibes Barclays Center.

King cited the team's sterling record, and how new stars Stewart and Jonquel Jones joined Ionescu, a top draft pick, to make a fun "pretty unstoppable" team.

One commenter: "It’s really been the highlight of my summer and I think I’ll probably just get season tickets next year. People are so nice compared to Nets games, and the games fly by. It helps the team is really good."

In the New York Groove yesterday, Veronica Garza wrote How to become a fan of The New York Liberty, the only Good sports team in the city:
The Liberty are the team to watch. They’ve got a star-studded lineup and are coming out of the regular season with a 32-8 record. Plus, Liberty games are my favorite summer activity. The sideline entertainment, the diverse, energetic, loyal fanbase, the intensity of women's basketball where they actually play defense (take that, NBA), and most of all, the affordable tickets. (Honorable mention to the air conditioning unit at Barclays getting me through the heat this summer.)
I'm not sure ticket prices are "HELLA CHEAP," but it's relative, I guess, since Garza says she paid $75 "to sit in the very last row (yes, the absolute last row) of the Knicks/Nets at Barclays."

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