Breanna Stewart and the Freedom of New York are on the same “fight to raise the bar” page when it comes to using charter flights in the WNBA and now the playbook is being pushed to the commissioner’s desk.
Liberty Co-Governor Clara Wu Tsai said Wednesday during Stewart and Courtney VanderslootAt the introductory press conference, she said she needed to be a “constant voice” and “as influential as possible” on the issue, and she believes the issue has reached a point where it will be addressed in a certain extent.
“As we know, I will be fined if I talk too much about anything related to the collective agreement,” she said. “Everyone knows where we stand on this issue and I alluded to it earlier in my remarks. But I believe it is an important enough topic within the league and several other governors that it be addressed by the commissioner.”
Stewart signed with the Liberty during a hyped free agency in which the 2018 MVP centered the issue of charters and chose the team in part because the owners viewed the issue the same way. The parties want to abandon commercial flights required by the WNBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but that will require a vote from the Board of Governors and support from Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Engelbert estimated the cost at $25 million a year, and wants to make sure it’s financially feasible every year.
The Liberty was fined $500,000 for repeatedly using charter flights. at the end of the 2021 season, sparking increased discussion around the issue. THE The Aces of Las Vegas, the league’s West Coast superteam, and its owner, Mark Davis, also came out in favor of the charters. The use of charter flights provides a competitive advantage, so the CBA has leveled the playing field by requiring teams to fly commercially. The 2020 ABC upgraded players to economy plus or comfort seats for more legroom.
“I think the fine we imposed and the measures we took speak for themselves,” Wu Tsai said. “I am a person who is interested in actions, not words.”
Players are pushing for charter flights for health and safety reasons. Charter flights would allow them to rest and recover more, protect them from airport delays and cancellation issues, and give teams more flexibility in departures and arrivals rather than difficult turnaround times between games. and takeoff.
The opening remarks Wu Tsai referred to concerned the issue of player support. She said that when she and her husband, Joe Tsai, purchased the team in 2019, they “decided to invest in the Liberty and the league for the long term.”
“And we are particularly committed to the health and well-being of players, ensuring adequate rest and recovery for players, and really raising that standard for all players in the league,” Wu Tsai said. “Behind this investment is a true intention to position this team and the league for continued success and growth by all metrics, including national awareness, corporate sponsorship, television audiences (and) fans in the building.”
New York, the only original franchise without a championship, was active in supporting players whether through Locker room improvements or Liberty-specific signage around and on the Barclays Center. Neither is common for WNBA teams. They also invested in the team’s personnel.
“One of the most neglected areas in this league for a long time is player health,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said. “Especially when you have players going abroad. They come back, we have a (training) camp and they are all in different states of condition. I don’t think we talk about it enough.
“We say it when we recruit these really elite people on the performance side,” Kolb said. “We don’t just want to have the best performance team in the WNBA. We want to have the best performance team, period. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do. Because that’s what these players deserve .”
Stewart, 28, said she chose to sign with the Liberty to “continue to raise the bar” and made her announcement wearing a jersey that said: “I want to do my part to make this world a better place.” Before his decision, she tweeted about subsidizing charter flights for the entire WNBA and offered his own name, image and likeness to secure a deal. Dozens of WNBA players raised their virtual hands in agreement.
“I think it’s a conversation that needs to happen and it’s a topic that needs to be talked about,” Stewart said Wednesday. “I think when we talk about pushing the needles and raising the bar and elevating the WNBA, it’s also about that. It’s also about the health and well-being of the players and what will allow us to travel across the country or whatever the case may be. Being able to play our best. Because we want to do our best to win, but we also want to play our best to be in front of new fans, holders of tickets, things like that.”
Stewart reiterated her previous point that she hopes the issue of charter flights will move from a resounding “no” to a “maybe,” or be allowed in logical cases, like those cross-country or back-to-back trips. back. The league has stepped in over the years to pay for charters when it’s deemed extremely necessary, such as during flight delay issues during the playoffs. Eventually, Stewart said she hopes it will turn into full-time charter flights.
The MLS has adopted a system in which it allows charter flights for four stages (two round trips) per season. It is ABC 2020 requires charters for at least eight games per season and all post-season games. Engelbert always pointed to a new agreement on media rights that would “resize” the valuation of the league as a way to address financial issues such as charters. ESPN/ABC deal ends after 2025, same year Last week, it set a new expansion target that was pushed back.
“We want to make sure that when I’m done playing, which hopefully won’t be long,” Stewart said, “and Sloot is done playing, which hopefully won’t be long, that the next generation that will come and the After that, they will organize themselves to be successful and not have to worry about tedious things and they can only try to be better and more awesome.
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