Chris McGowan Rumors

“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” said Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.” “We’re shocked to lose such a great member of our Trail Blazers family,” said Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan. “The news is so sudden, and we’re sure more details will be forthcoming. But it is indeed a sad day for our organization, the city of Portland and the NBA. Jerome will be remembered not only for his incredible contributions on the court, but his tremendous impact in our community.”
After receiving city approval, the Portland Trail Blazers are proceeding with rebranding the exterior of the Moda Center by installing a prominent high-efficiency LED-lit “Moda Center” signage on the south end of the arena, a source informed CSNNW.com. The source elaborated in detail that the new signage will face downtown Portland. Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan confirmed the plan Wednesday afternoon and provided further details.
McGowan may not have any say in on-floor operations of the Blazers but, during his classroom talk, he asked an assistant to keep him updated on the Blazers’ performance that night against Milwaukee. He fielded questions from students and placed special emphasis on one point. “Learn to sell,” McGowan said. “If you want a high probability of getting into an organization, the biggest opportunities are in sales.”
When he joined the Kings, the organization had 55 employees. By the time he left, it had thousands and was part of AEG, whose holdings included the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. In McGowan’s 17 years with the organization, he had risen to chief operating officer of AEG Sports, overseeing the business operations of the Kings, Stanley Cup winners in 2012, as well as the Galaxy, winners of the MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012. As the Kings celebrated their Stanley Cup victory, McGowan went slip sliding to join them on the Staples Center ice – one of the few suits allowed to do so. He’d even grown a playoff beard, part of the NHL tradition when pursuing what many consider to be the most venerated trophy in sports.
In conjunction with Rip City Management and the Portland Trail Blazers, the Moda Center has released its official logos and usage guidelines. The logos were created by Portland-based experience design and innovation firm, Ziba. “We wanted to make sure we went through a thorough design process with the creation of the Moda Center logos,” said Chris McGowan, President & CEO of the Portland Trail Blazers and Moda Center. “After a span of more than three months, which included countless renderings and proposals, we are really pleased with the end result.”
McGowan said the exploration – what he called a “deep dive and a deep exploration” – was a useful exercise, allowing him and his staff to look at how adding 44 NHL games (41 regular season and three preseason) would play in Portland. Can a league whose season overlaps the NBA’s thrive in Portland? “Oh yeah,” McGowan said. “I think this arena could absolutely handle that. It’s a great venue. Obviously, we have a great ice sheet here, and there are a lot of hockey fans in Portland. I think it could work in Portland, for sure.”
The new arena name should be in place for at least a decade, McGowan added. “These deals typically are large in scope, and the terms are usually pretty long as well,” McGowan said. “I would suggest that this will be our longest and most substantial partnership that we have as an organization. Typically, terms at least start at 10 years from a naming rights perspective. I would anticipate that that would be the case as well.”
The Trail Blazers expect to play in a renamed arena starting with the 2013-14 season, they could co-exist with an NHL team, but they still don’t see an immediate resolution to their TV dilemma. Blazers president Chris McGowan discussed those topics in an interview with The Oregonian on Thursday at the Rose Garden. McGowan said he expects the Rose Garden to have a new moniker by the time the Blazers start playing next season. The arena has not had a corporate name since it opened in 1995, but the Blazers have been working with Premier Partnerships since January to sell naming rights to the arena.
The Portland Trail Blazers and AEG Facilities have agreed to mutually part ways. AEG’s contract expires June 30 and effective July 1, Trail Blazers Incorporated/RIP City Management will self-operate the Rose Garden. Vice President, General Manger of Rose Quarter Operations Chris Oxley will now oversee Rip City Management. This business shift will end a five-year partnership which will allow the Trail Blazers to return to a self-operating model such as when the Rose Garden opened 18 years ago. “We’ll have an arena staff and team staff working together. One organization connected under one owner. For us, it made sense to self-operate,” Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan told CSNNW.com. “I would like to thank AEG for being outstanding partners over the years and we look forward to continuing a positive business relationship with them in the future.”
The city of New Orleans is hosting the event in 2014 and it is between Brooklyn and New York for 2015. Word is Cleveland and Toronto have the upper hand for 2016, leaving door open for the year 2017. A high-ranking NBA source told CSNNW.com that an announcement on who receives the event for 2015 and 2016 will be forthcoming, but added that the bidding process has not begun for 2017. “We’re definitely going to pursue it,” McGowan said. “Doesn’t mean we’re going to get it, but if the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to go for it. If 2017 is available, we want to get in the mix for that year.”
Dewayne Hankins, who has quickly built an award-winning resume in sports business, has been appointed the Trail Blazers’ vicevpresident of marketing. He begins the job this week. Hankins previously was senior director, digital strategy, AEG Sports, the company that owns the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS, among other properties. Blazers president and chief executive, Chris McGowan, was AEG Sports’ chief operating officer.
McGowan would like to have a contract in place before the 2013-14 NBA season. It’s not a done deal, though, that he’ll make a deal at all. “It’s good for our organization to have this revenue stream,” he says. “All of it would get reinvested into what we do on the court. There are only three NBA teams that don’t have (a naming rights deal). “But I’m going to be very cautious about it. I’m not going to do a deal with the wrong brand. We’re the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rose Garden has a great name. It’s not something we have to do, which is a good position to be in. There are a lot of companies that have to get deals done. We’re not one of them.”
McGowan is in the preliminary stages of selling the Rose Garden’s naming rights. He hired a company called “Premier Partnership” to facilitate the process. They have a list of about 100 businesses — some local, some national — that have a likelihood of interest. Three or four presentations have already been scheduled. “We’re getting pretty good feedback,” he says. “It could be a local company, which would be great, or it could be a (national) blue-chip brand.”
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McGowan speaks almost daily with general manager Neil Olshey, who runs the basketball side of the operation, and often sits with him at games. “But I don’t get involved in player-personnel stuff,” McGowan says. “There are organizational initiatives we partner on. We are going to remodel the practice facility this offseason, for instance. But I want to drive the business side. I have my hands full there.”
The NBA’s next commissioner, Adam Silver, told CSNNW.com that there is mutual interest from the league and the Portland Trail Blazers to see about bringing All-Star Weekend to the city of Portland. “They (Trail Blazers) have shown interest and we have interest,” Silver said. “It’s an ongoing process. Portland is a great city. We like the idea, but it’s something we have to investigate further.” CSNNW.com reached out to Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan and he acknowledged that there is a desire to bring the showcase to Portland and he added, “It would be great for the city to host the event.”
Hours after a dramatic nationally-televised victory over the Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan executed his second round of layoffs since joining the organization in October on Friday. In a statement to Blazersedge, McGowan said that the layoffs would be the last of his current restructuring plan. “We concluded our second and final round of staffing restructuring which unfortunately included the elimination of seven positions across our organization,” McGowan said in the statement. “These decisions were made because I have determined that we are operating with more staff members than most NBA franchises. Additionally, it has been my goal to restructure the organization by removing layers and creating a more efficient operation. “This restructuring has accomplished these goals and we are now getting more in line with where we need to be in regards to headcount. We believe that this round of restructuring completes our major realignments, but we remain committed to doing those things necessary for the successful operation of the Trail Blazers.”
He could sense it earlier this month, when less than a month into his job he fired three longtime executives, then called a staff meeting to announce the decisions. Afterward, he asked if there were any comments or questions. It was crickets and tumbleweeds. Nobody spoke. It didn’t help that he mispronounced the last name of one of the fired employees, who had been there nearly 20 years. And it didn’t help that in his speech, he warned that more layoffs could be ahead. “Weird. That was weird,” McGowan said last week from his Rose Garden office. “To go into a room with 170 people, and it’s only the second time I’ve addressed the staff in an all-staff fashion, and I’m delivering that unfortunate news to them. And you want to be available to answer questions, but nobody wants to ask in a group setting. … So, yeah, that wasn’t a very good day.”
He says he is under no directives from Vulcan, “other than to simply run a better organization and improve the results,” McGowan said. He says he will run a better organization by being a hands-on, roll-up-his-sleeves executive, which allows him to eliminate some positions that he says have clogged the organization’s ability to be efficient. “I’m a real active president. I’m an operator,” McGowan said. “I will have more direct reports than previous leaders had, that’s just my style. So when you have someone like me, an operator, you can kind of flatten the organization out a little bit.”
It ranks just below his first day, when he was introduced to the media and staff during a press conference at the Rose Garden. He appeared uneasy, and labored through his statement while giving vague answers to questions about his track record and management style. At first blush, he looked like a kid overmatched with responsibility, providing the perfect fodder for speculation that he was merely a puppet to the mysterious and powerful Vulcans in Seattle, who run owner Paul Allen’s empire. “I’m not going to lie,” McGowan said. “It was my first press conference and I was nervous.”