Liberty to play Commissioner's Cup final at UBS Arena in Long Island. Barclays out due to NBA draft

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Liberty will play the Commissioner's Cup championship game on June 25 against the Minnesota Lynx at UBS Arena in Long Island because the NBA draft makes the Barclays Center unavailable, the league announced Monday.

The draft is the next night and there wouldn't be enough time to change over the arena. The Liberty have back-to-back games on June 22 and June 23, so moving the game up a day wouldn’t work.

“With the scheduling of the NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 26, the NBA created an unavoidable conflict for use of the building,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We are working closely with the New York Liberty on this one-game relocation to UBS Arena and to provide the best possible experience for attendees and participants at the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship. We apologize for any inconvenience to the Liberty’s season ticket holders and loyal fans.”

Liberty officials knew this could be a potential conflict in December and told the league. When the team clinched home court earlier this month, the Liberty offered to play their regular-season game against the Lynx on July 2 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the Commissioner's Cup championship, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because those discussions were private.

The thought was by doubling up the game on July 2, it would alleviate both teams having to play an extra game for the Commissioner's Cup finale in an already tight schedule. The Lynx declined that option.

“It’s not the day of the Commissioner’s Cup,’’ Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said before the team played Dallas on Monday night. “The July 2 game is a regular-season game. The Commissioner’s Cup is June 25, and all parties have known that for a while."

The person also said the league gave the Liberty the option of playing the game in Minnesota, but the team said no.

The UBS Arena is primarily used for hockey as the home of the New York Islanders. There have been a few college basketball games played there since it opened in 2021. Both the UBS Arena and Barclays Center have a capacity of about 17,000.

New York is second in the league in attendance, averaging 12,586 fans.

“We are excited for the opportunity to defend our Commissioner’s Cup title in New York, and we appreciate our fans' unwavering support of our team,” said New York Liberty CEO Keia Clarke. “While we wish we could have brought this game to our fans in our home arena, we are grateful to UBS Arena for accommodating us and providing a world-class venue in New York.”

This is the fourth year of the Commissioner's Cup and New York is the defending champion. The teams are competing for a $500,000 cash prize pool. In addition, the sponsor Coinbase has committed another $120,000 in cryptocurrency with $5,000 guaranteed for each player participating in the final.

There is also a charity component. New York raised $15,000 for Women Creating Change. Minnesota earned $13,000 for Gender Justice. The winning team on June 25 will get an additional $10,000 donation while the runner-up will get $5,000.



Doug Feinberg, The Associated Press