Chris McGowan Rumors
The 10-year, $120 million deal between the Blazers and Comcast SportsNet Northwest ends after the 2016-17 NBA season. For the approximate 38 percent of households in the Portland market that have DirecTV, it’s been an exercise in frustration. For the Blazers, it’s been a lucrative nuisance. And for CSNNW, it’s been bread and butter.
The Blazers and CSNNW have concluded their contractually obligated exclusive negotiating period. Now, for the first time in his tenure, McGowan is in position to do something about the broadcast deal he inherited. One he’s publicly said he’d like to rectify. His presence on that commercial flight was evidence — McGowan had scheduled a meeting in Los Angeles with Fox Sports Networks. McGowan is not allowed to comment on the negotiation. CSNNW vice president and general manager Larry Eldridge is limited in what he can say, too. But Blazers fans, who have spent nine seasons bound by this deal, certainly can, and should speak out.
The idea goes that the Blazers are free to shop, but ROOT SPORTS is Seattle-based and can’t offer the Blazer-centric dedication that CSNNW offers. Neither can Fox Sports Networks. Also, there’s a whisper being floated in the market that cut-throat parent-company Comcast, which currently offers Root Sports Northwest on its basic-tier packages, might pull the regional network from its Portland-based customers as a retaliatory strike should it lose the rights. However, when I mentioned that to a source close to the negotiation, it was waved off. “Hollow threat,” the source said. “What are they going to do? Pull the Mariners and Timbers off in Portland? They can’t do it. Won’t happen.”
There’s a small room off the side of the hallway outside the Trail Blazers locker room that general manager Neil Olshey uses on game night as his meeting space. During 41 evenings a season team president Chris McGowan works to catch the GM and get down to business on matters that concern both. “Neil is not seen as a big email or text guy,” one Portland front-office official said on Saturday. “You have to talk, and meet with him.”
The most interesting part, though, is that the organization has become about basketball again over the last four years. Win or lose, the basketball leads and the business follows. What the Blazers have is a pair of leaders who work very closely together promoting vision, talking strategy, and getting on the same page when it comes to messaging. On a night like Friday, when the basketball is humming and the president is prepared to call season-ticket holdouts the organization feels like it’s on a mission. “It’s not perfect or flawless,” said a basketball-operations employee, “but it’s working.”
“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.”
“This is a significant announcement for our organization and our fans. I look forward to continuing to partner with Neil to move the franchise forward,” said Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan.