The Portland Trail Blazers have reached agreement with "Rip City Two," a SportsTwo.com messageboard that will become the team's "official messageboard" this season. The agreement is one year in length and includes an option for a second season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The organization's marketing department sought such a partnership after reaching the conclusion that their "IamATrailBlazersFan.com" messageboard, which was moderated in-house, was too burdensome and that a partnership with a preexisting messageboard would better achieve their goals of fostering discussion and reaching fans online.
Blazers Marketing VP Dewayne Hankins sees the partnership as another prong in his team's new online approach, which also includes a new mobile app and Casey Holdahl's relaunched "Forward Center" blog.
"A messageboard is only ever as good as the people who put content on it and moderate it," Hankins told Blazersedge. "[Our old messageboard] was always someone's job, besides their real job, they would just help moderate the messageboard when they had time. ... Without curation and moderation and good content, the boards become stale or hostile or somewhere in between. We just don't have the resources to dedicate full-time people to running messageboards. ... The good thing about Rip City Two is that they have a full cast of people who moderate the boards. The framework was already there."
Hankins, who arrived in Portland last spring, pursued a similar messageboard partnership with LetsGoKings.com when he worked for the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings.
"Each league has their own rules, each person has their own goal of what they want to get out of it, but the general idea is the same," he said. "In my experience, it's always better to find out where there are already established messageboards, build a rapport with them and partner with them that makes sense for both parties. Rip City Two is a community of people who are deeply passionate about the Trail Blazers and basketball."
A primary goal of the partnership is ad placement. Rip City Two will undergo a visual redesign to match the organization's other online entities, and ads from the team's sponsors will appear on the site. In return, links to Rip City Two will be featured on Blazers.com and mentioned during broadcasts.
One obvious concern with such a partnership is how editorially lines get drawn. Hankins insists the organization isn't interested in controlling or directing the discussion on Rip City Two. He laughed at the hypothetical idea that Blazers marketing employees might zap out a "Damian Lillard is overrated" comment.
"We're not in the business of censoring anybody," Hankins said. "We're reading the comments and what people say on Blazersedge, on messageboards, or on anybody else's website. That's where the most passionate fans are. The most passionate fans have opinions, and we read those opinions. ... It's not authentic if we don't allow people to say what they want to say."
Two representatives of the site -- "SlyPokerDog" and Nate Bishop -- attended a preseason exhibition with game passes, and Hankins said the team will "look into" acquiring media credentials for site representatives to create original content from regular season games.
Site moderator "Denny Crane" announced the agreement on Thursday.
Today, I finished negotiating a consulting agreement between SportsTwo and the Portland Trail Blazers where our Trail Blazers forum is going to become the official message board of the Portland Trail Blazers. This is a done deal. I want to congratulate you all. I merely represented us, as a group we made this worthwhile.
We do not have to change our site rules in any way. They are perfectly satisfied with the way we run the site in every respect - that we don't edit profanity or say rude things and so on. They do not have editorial control over the site.
It is in our own best interests to edit profanity in thread titles. If we do, we can have a display of recent threads on the trailblazers.com home page (or elsewhere). If the titles have profanity in them, we will effectively be defacing their site.
We do not have to filter what we or any poster says about the Blazers.
PS Congratulations and best of luck to the Rip City Two crew, some of whom I've known (in the site's earlier incarnations) dating back to the Kevin Pritchard days.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter