Chris McGowan Rumors
“I am honored to extend my tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers under the leadership of Jody Allen, the ongoing partnership with Bert Kolde, Chris McGowan and Terry Stotts and in the memory of Paul G. Allen,” said Olshey. “Leslie, Connor, James and I love Portland and feel blessed to be a part of the future of Rip City.”
A new figure has emerged to lead the Trail Blazers in the wake of owner Paul Allen’s passing: his sister, Jody Allen. The Athletic has learned that Ms. Allen has been decisive in ruling on a variety of major decisions for the team, which as of now, she has no intention of selling. “Nothing is for sale right now,” said Chris McGowan, the Blazers president and CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, which also includes the Seattle Seahawks. “We are operating business as usual and Neil and I are collaborating regularly with her on all major organizational decisions.”
Chris McGowan, the CEO of Vulcan Sports, did not return a message seeking comment on the subject. But multiple NBA sources have told me in the last couple of weeks that they believe the Blazers will eventually be sold. The timeline for that sale would be in the 18-36-month window.
NBA sources tell me that it’s unlikely that an outside ownership group would buy the team and convince the league to abandon a successful market. So I think it’s unlikely the franchise could be purchased and moved unless something in this discussion changes.
Allen, who was 65, owned the team for 30 years. His absence leaves plenty of uncertainty. On Tuesday, general manager Neil Olshey and team CEO and president Chris McGowan held a news conference and told warm, respectful stories about their boss. Both, however, said it was too soon to start talking about the team’s ownership future. “At this point, we’re just kind of dealing with the death,” McGowan said. “We don’t have any imminent announcements or anything like that. At the appropriate time, I’m sure we’ll come and talk to everyone with what could potentially happen.”
Chris Haynes: Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan issues statement to ESPN regarding the team’s tweet that sparked Chandler Parsons-CJ McCollum exchange: “We give our social media staff pretty strict guidelines, so they operate knowing what is appropriate and what isn’t. This one was meant to be light hearted and fun but was probably a little too close to the line we try to keep on mediums like Twitter. It’s a learning lesson for us and we will be more mindful going forward. “Our official account is meant to be fun and positive. It’s not our intention to cause things to turn negative. In this case it did, and that is what we want to avoid going forward.”
The agreement, which will no doubt rankle Blazers fans with satellite television subscriptions, ends months of negotiations and internal organizational debate about the direction the team should take regarding the future of its game broadcasts. Blazers President Chris McGowan and his executive team spent months exploring a wide range of broadcast possibilities with the goal of finding a provider that would deliver games to the widest possible audience.
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.
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.”
The source said the AFL would like a decision on Portland’s interest in relocating a franchise by the end of business Friday. The league, whose regular season begins in March, would like to make an announcement during Saturday’s Arena Bowl broadcast on CBS. “Unless this goes sideways on Friday, it’s highly likely this is happening,” the source said.
Chris McGowan turned 40 over the weekend, and apparently as part of his celebration the president of the Trail Blazers wants to see a football game. A source told me Thursday that the Blazers are in preliminary negotiations with the Arena Football League to relocate a franchise to Portland. This comes in the wake of the news that McGowan wants to talk about bringing NHL to Portland. The football team would play in the venue that was formerly known as the Rose Garden.
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.”
“When there was an opportunity to take a look at the potential of an NHL team, we did our job and did that,” McGowan said. “We were in discussions. Obviously, it didn’t come to fruition because they’re staying in Phoenix, but we definitely looked at that as potentially something that could work in Portland.”
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.
Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey and president Chris McGowan welcomed the Dalai Lama to Portland by presenting him with a personalized jersey and team hat during a talk at the Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, hence the jersey No. 14.
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.”
Portland Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan has informed CSNNW.com that he will make it known at an April 18 NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York, that he has every intention of preparing a bid to bring NBA All-Star Weekend to the city of Portland. “We made the decision that we’re going to go all in for it,” McGowan told CSNNW.com.
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.”
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.”
This comes in the wake of the resignation of Chief Operating Officer Sarah Mensah, who had lobbied hard, but unsuccessfully, for the position of team president over the past few months. Account representatives with the team said Mensah had been increasingly withdrawn since the hire of president Chris McGowan. McGowan said the layoffs were made to “streamline” the management layers, which he called “excessive.” I happen to like McGowan. And so with a decade of experience writing columns about this franchise, I offer a bit of advice for the new guy — this ends badly for you.
The Portland Trail Blazers have laid off three longtime executives. The Blazers announced the layoffs on Thursday, about a month after Chris McGowan became the new team president. Chief financial officer Gregg Olson had been with the Blazers for 10 years. Michele Daterman, who was the senior vice president of tickets and marketing, and Traci Reandeau, formerly the senior vice president of human resources, both had been with the team for 18 years. Daterman helped develop Portland’s “New Team, New Dream” slogan.
Chris McGowan will bring an expertise in ticket sales, an open mind and a willingness to let the basketball staff run the basketball operations. That’s the outline McGowan, 39, laid out as he was introduced as the Trail Blazers’ new president and CEO on Tuesday at the Rose Garden. McGowan comes to Portland after the Blazers and parent company Vulcan Sports and Entertainment conducted what Vulcan CEO Peter McLoughlin called an “extensive nationwide search” for a successor to Larry Miller, who resigned in July after five years. McGowan was chief operating officer of AEG Sports, overseeing the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy. “I’ve been working in this industry for 17 years, it’s always been a goal of mine to get the opportunity to lead an organization,” said McGowan, who will start his new job Nov. 12. “I can’t think of a better place than Portland to be able to do that.”
Basically, the business runs directly to Seattle. And what of the basketball? Will it run through Seattle, too? Because the best model has the basketball thriving in Portland with Olshey in command, creating the kind of championship-caliber basketball product that fosters so much fresh revenue for the business side that Allen has to dispatch a convoy of armored vehicles to haul the loot north. Tell me where exactly the actual basketball played ranks on Allen’s franchise totem pole and I’ll tell you whether this hire will work. In the news release on the hiring, there was this tidbit: “Olshey will continue to manage all basketball operations. He will report directly to Allen on basketball operations and collaborate with McGowan on budget and financial matters.”
The Trail Blazers hired Chris McGowan as president on Monday. He replaces Larry Miller, who replaced Steve Patterson, who replaced Bob Whitsitt. Also, McGowan will work alongside general manager Neil Olshey, who replaced Rich Cho, who replaced Kevin Pritchard, who replaced Patterson, who replaced John Nash, who replaced Whitsitt. Point is, it hasn’t felt easy to explain around here since Whitsitt left, has it? The hope here isn’t that McGowan will walk on water, or help a basketball team that feels headed to another NBA Draft Lottery find a miracle way out of this mess. Rather, the hope is that McGowan can work closely enough with Olshey to end the convoluted decade of madness and again make the basketball, not the business (or some gobbled combination) feel like it’s driving the bus again.
The Portland Trail Blazers announced Monday the hiring of Chris McGowan as president and CEO. He replaces former president Larry Miller, who resigned in July and returned to Jordan Brand. The Blazers also announced the resignation of general counsel Mike Fennell on Monday. Here’s the team’s release announcing McGowan’s hiring. The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that Los Angeles sports executive Chris McGowan will be the Trail Blazers’ new President and Chief Executive Officer. McGowan joins the Trail Blazers from his position as Chief Operating Officer of AEG Sports, where he has played prominent leadership roles in the reigning NHL champion Los Angeles Kings and the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy.