Transcript: Blazers President Chris McGowan Discusses Dropping AEG, Signing Levy Restaurants

Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan discusses a few of the team's new business deals

Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan joined Mike Barrett and Mike Rice on Blazers Courtside earlier this week to discuss a few of the team's new business deals. Video of the interview is here.

Here's a condensed transcript.

Reflections on first year

It's been a great first year. It seems like a bit of a flash. It seems like just yesterday I was here, just starting the job, opening night. I guess time flies when you're having fun.

The first year was productive, I learned a lot, I had a good opportunity to sit back and observe how the organization operates, which is going to be invaluable heading into the offseason as we do all the planning for next season. That was a really good use of the first season for me.

I learned a lot about the city, met a lot of people, that was really beneficial as well. You see the passion of the fans, I've talked about that a lot. Even with the season ending, people want to talk about what's going on with the Trail Blazers. People are really excited about how we played, particularly in the first half of the season. I knew coming in it was going to be a passionate market and it's definitely lived up to that for sure.

Accomplish what you wanted to so far?

Yeah, I feel like we've done a lot in the five or six months since I've been here. Certainly I'm always striving, trying to improve. I feel like there's a lot of work that can be done and we'll make a lot of good improvements in the offseason heading into next season.

One of the things I'm most excited about because I started at the beginning of the season on opening night, is to have an offseason where you can plan, and implement new strategies and initiatives. It's something I'm looking forward to. We're already started putting together our business plan for the 2013-14 season.

Offseason for business side of organization

The offseason is typically your busiest time of the year, you're planning and doing everything so you can execute in season. The only nice thing -- well, it isn't nice because we'd obviously like to be in the playoffs, but we don't have night time games and weekend games so you feel like you can take a little bit of a deep breath and think about the upcoming season.

But certainly as an organization we're really busy right now. There's a lot of change and transition happening within the organization, we're really ramping up our aggressiveness and ambition and we're going to develop a really comprehensive business plan that will hopefully produce a lot of great results heading into next season.

The new food and beverage deal with Levy Restaurants

That's one of the items that's taken a good bit of time for a portion of the people involved in our organization. When you bring in a new food and beverage partner there's a lot of logistics that go into a decision like that. We made the decision to go a different direction with a new company that can create a new culinary vision for the organization going into next season because we want to improve on things.

That's not saying anything bad about the partner that we're leaving, they were great and did a lot of great things for us. We were just captivated by what Levy came in and told us what they were going to do from a culinary perspective in the Rose Garden.

AEG agreement expires and going back to self-operating Rose Garden

It's not that rare [to self-operate] when you're a building that only has a couple of tenants and is owned by the same person. You can choose to bring in an arena management company and it was the right decision back when we did it. AEG did a lot of great things for us over the last six years. In conversations with them since I've been here, we kind of mutually agreed that this was the best course for us. We're excited about this, it's going to allow us to come together as an organization.

When I started, you would talk about the arena side and the team side. Since we have one owner and we're working towards collective goals, we think it makes sense to come together as one and view ourselves as one organization. When you self-operate as we did back when the arena opened awhile ago, that's what that will provide to us.

Coming together as one, working together and hopefully what it will mean for fans, we'll be able to utilize resources collectively to get more events to come into the arena. I've talked about that a lot since I got here. The Rose Garden is a great facility, not only for the Trail Blazers games, and how about the Winterhawks, by the way. It's also a great concert venue. I have the belief that we can work a little bit more aggressively to bring in more sporting events and more concerts as well. Hopefully, self-operating will pave the way for that.

Owner Paul Allen's involvement in these changes

We have regular communication with him. Anything big like this, it's a simple, 'This is what we're thinking, this is why we're thinking it, and this is the benefit.' Usually he'll weigh in maybe with some things that I hadn't been thinking about. Obviously he's been around the block, so he gives good advice as it relates to the business perspective. Then he says, 'Yeah, go for it.' He definitely listens to our advice.

I've been talking about this one since my first day here, I worked at AEG for 17 years, it wasn't anything that AEG wasn't providing to us, this is more about what it makes sense for us to do as an organization going forward. AEG is still a dominant player in this industry and are going to do great things.

Sacramento Kings staying in Sacramento rather than relocating to Seattle

First of all, you obviously had two cities that put very good offers together to get a team. The Relocation Committee's job is to vet that and make what they believe is the best decision for the NBA. I'm obviously not involved in the details of that but the fact that it was such a majority [unanimous vote] tells you something about where it was going. Keep in mind, there's still a [full Board of Governors] vote on May 13, I think that's when that is going to come down. Two great markets, both would have been great NBA markets. The Relocation Committee seemingly did their job.

Do you think Seattle has a shot in the future?

You would think so. They seemed to get a lot of stuff lined up for this. It didn't work out. Hopefully, maybe they'll continue along the course of trying to get an NBA team. For me, I'm most worried about what's going on here in Portland and I'll let all those committees, and the commissioner, who know that stuff a lot better than I do, determine what's best for the NBA as a whole.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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