Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan discusses arena naming rights, season ticket renewal numbers and what's ahead during his first offseason.
Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan was interviewed on Wednesday's edition of Blazers Courtside by Adam Bjaranson and Michael Holton. Here's a link to the video.
Here's a transcript.
Damian Lillard's anti-bullying campaign
The response has been people have been really impressed that he's dove in and gotten behind this initiative. The other thing I hear a lot is why aren't there more doing this because it's such a topical issue, it resonates really well with everything that's going on in society. A lot of people are thankful that us as an organization are jumping into it and you have Damian Lillard eloquently getting into it, and we're having a lot of good organizations coming to us and wanting to get involved as well.
Is this a local campaign or a national campaign?
It originated here. Hopefully it becomes national or regional because it's a message that resonates everywhere. It's something that's starting here and we'll see where it goes from there. It's a good program, our fans, everybody wants to support it, other organizations, other teams are calling and asking about it, I think it's something that's going to blow up, frankly.
Respect t-shirts for the campaign
Go online, you can take the "Respect pledge," and voila, one will show up in the mail.
Arena naming rights
The process started about a month ago. I've been pretty vocal about us trying to go out and find a good partner to come on and be the naming rights partner for the Rose Garden. We hired a company called premier partnerships to help us. We are creating a strategy and having preliminary conversations right now. We've had a lot of great conversations with a lot of great brands, both local and national, that view it as a very interesting proposition, to be able to come into a great market like Portland. Great fans like we have, an NBA building, is something that's valuable to a lot of people out there.
I've been very encouraged by the amount of conversations we're having. We're nowhere near a deal because it's so preliminary but we're going go through the process because we're thorough. If the right deal is to be had, we're going to do it. The fortunate thing is we don't have to do a bad deal, or jump into something that doesn't make sense for our organization or something that doesn't make sense for Portland. The Rose Garden name is something our fans are very connected with, we're very conscious of that. We're just going to go through the process and see where it ends up. Ultimately if we get something that makes sense we'll do it, if we don't, we'll move on to a lot of other things we have as priorities as an organization.
Season ticket renewals
We still have a couple of weeks to clean everything up. Originally we were trying to get 85 percent of our season ticketholders renewed, by last Friday we're past that. It's looking like we're projecting to be past 90 percent, which is a great statement. It just speaks to how good our fans are, they are so passionate about the Portland Trail Blazers, I think they're believing in where we're going as an organization, believing in what Neil is doing as a general manager, and they're really excited about the future.
The team has played really, really competitively this year during some of the games at the Rose Garden. It's a great statement, our fans are supporting us an organization. Over a 90 percent renewal is not something a lot of teams are doing. We're very happy about that.
Looking ahead to your first offseason
I'm starting to. The first three months were really hectic because I was meeting with a lot of people internally and externally. In my nature I want to try to do a bunch of stuff to improve, I'm looking to improve every day. Right now, I'm kind of taking a deep breath, thinking about strategy and where we're going to go. I'm excited to get to the end of the season, we've already started our business planning process but coming in when I came in, I didn't get a chance to build a business plan for this year. The offseason is for building that and the season is for executing what you built. I'm really excited to get the team, the partner heads, together and talk about what we're trying to accomplish as a business this season. There's some real excitement -- like there is on the court, we have some excitement, we have some excitement off the court as well. A bunch of good workers in our office who are looking to do some things for next season.
Rest and relaxation
I'm going fishing Friday with Brian Grant. He's offered to take me fishing, I'll learn what that's all about. You live so close to the river, if you don't fish, I should at least try, I'm not a fisher but hopefully I'll like it.
Spend a lot of time with my family. I've got young kids so any time I'm away from work I'm with them. TO get away and decompress, I like running. I just ran the Shamrock Run. I'm really getting into trail running, which is something you couldn't do in L.A. There's all these great trails in Portland. If I need to disappear and think I'll just go do a trail run. Fortunately it's a good city do that.
Involvement in basketball side of operations
Strictly leave it to Neil. We're talking about organizational things, Neil has it well in order in terms of where we need to go as a basketball team. He focuses on that and I focus on everything else. That's what makes this so good -- we both know our roles and are working to accomplish big things in both areas. He handles all that basketball stuff, I handle all the business stuff, and we collaborate on organizational things.
Other events in Rose Quarter
We also run the Rose Garden. I run that as well. I work with that team to develop our events strategy. Our goal is to bring a wider variety of events to Portland. I'm working with Drew and the Oregon Sports Authority to help him and partner in that regard. Whether it's boxing, tennis, figure skating, college basketball, what's good for Portland, we're going to want to bring those events here. We also want to bring a larger variety of concerts and family shows. It's such a great building and it's such a great market, we want to fill it on a night-to-night basis.
Will you do scouting in tournament?
No. I know what I'm good at and I know what I'm bad at.
What do fans seem excited about when they talk to you?
I think it's the way we play. We're never out. We play hard until the last whistle. There's been a lot of dramatic comebacks. They like that. I think they're really excited about Damian, obviously, that's brought a lot of excitement to the marketplace. I think they believe we're on a good path and they're willing to watch it grow. As a fan it's something that's fun to do.
I got to witness it in Los Angeles. Five years ago, the Kings were playing better but we weren't a playoff team, but our fans started to see the vision and they bought into it early. They won the Stanley Cup and after fans have watched that process, it's really sweeter. It's similar, they see light at the end of the tunnel. As long as they play hard and are good people, this city has proven it will support the team and they certainly have done it this year.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter