The Portland Trail Blazers officially announced the name change of the Rose Garden to the "Moda Center at the Rose Quarter" on Tuesday. The name change, the first since the building opened in 1995, is effective immediately.
The initial reaction on Twitter to the news was pretty ugly.
Here's a condensed transcript of the press conference announcing the name change. Blazers president Chris McGowan and Moda Health president Dr. William Johnson made statements and took questions at the
Rose Garden Moda Center on Tuesday morning.
Note: a few bits of the transcript were cut down but all the major points are included.
Blazers president Chris McGowan's opening statement
"I'd like to spend a little bit of time talking to you about why I think Moda is the right company for this agreement.
"First and foremost, Moda is a local company. We're really proud to be partnering with someone that is locally-based. We've gone through a quite extensive sales process in which we've talked to national and international companies, and it was always our hope to partner with a locally-based company, and we're excited to be partnering with [Moda] and your 1,400 employees, with a lot of them working right downtown.
"Moda is also the right partner for this because, from Day One, they view this as bigger than just a naming rights deal. They view this with a big vision in mind and we share that big vision. This is more than just putting a name on the arena. Dr. Johnson will talk about that. There are a lot of great initiatives that we are going to roll out, that are community-based, giving back to the community, teaching residents about the benefits of healthy living and we're really excited about that.
"They also view this in a bigger vision related to reinvigorating the Rose Quarter. We're going to put a lot of time and energy into livening up the Rose Quarter, making it the cultural hub that it should be, for arts and entertainment in this region.
"From Day One we got a great vibe. I think in June was when we first sat down. You can always tell when you get a good vibe from people and we could tell they would be good partners going forward.
"I'd like to talk to our fans a little bit. These are the types of deals that you have to do as an organization to raise your organization to another level. I want the fans to know because of the benefits of this deal, we're going to be able to [do] a lot of things that will directly impact our fans. Things like fan experience, facility improvements, it even goes down to the court, it helps us be a more competitive basketball team. I want the fans to know that.
"The Rose Garden is definitely not going away, it's definitely going to be a part of our history and heritage and everyone in our organization realizes that. Everyone at Moda realizes that as well.
"The Rose Garden put us on the map. The Moda Center is going to take us into the future."
Moda Health president Dr. William Johnson's opening statement
"Today marks a signature day for our two companies. It demonstrates our commitment to innovation, as well as community development. At Moda, we saw this as an opportunity to do something much more meaningful than put our name on the side of a building. We saw this as an opportunity to form an authentic community partnership, a partnership that engages Moda Health, the Portland Trail Blazers, and also the citizens throughout the Northwest.
"As Chris mentioned, we will honor the Rose City and embrace the past by incorporating a rose into the logo. With that said, we also look forward to the future. We have one goal in mind and that is to make the Moda Center the heart of the city.
"Portland is widely recognized for its urban planning and has produced many incredible, livable neighborhoods.
"Together with the Blazers and the Rose Quarter, we are developing a set of initiatives and enhancements that will improve the neighborhood, and extends to those attending concerts and community events. We also want to impact the health and welfare of the entire population.
"Our intent with the Moda Center is to create a showcase for modern, healthy urban living. We're convinced we can indeed be more, be better, be better together."
Questions and answers
Why did you change your company name to "Moda" and how does it fit with a basketball building?
Dr. William Johnson: "As many know we were formerly ODS [Oregon Dental Service]. We began to expand our organization and our footprint, to go from a local company to a regional company, we looked at different opportunities to re-name the organization. The reason why we focused on Moda, Moda is derived from the Latin term modus, which means 'the way.' It goes back to the way to do more, the way to do better, the way to better health. That's where Moda derives from and we feel it's a direct fit, the synergies were just there. Which also coincides with their 'Make it Better' program as well."
Chris McGowan: "I think on their website it also says, 'Trail Blazers of health.'"
How much did this cost?
Dr. William Johnson: "The terms of course are private."
Chris McGowan: "We'll keep it private. What we will tell you is that it's a 10-year term."
Ed. Note: McGowan later confirmed that $4 million per year over 10 years was "in the ballpark" for the agreement's terms.
Why did this effort to land a naming rights deal succeed when previous efforts failed?
Chris McGowan: "Well, it's tough to talk about why something didn't succeed when you weren't a part of it. I can only talk about what we did. Certainly we jumped into this organizationally and identified this as something we wanted to do as an organization. Our staff got behind it. A difference-maker this time was hiring Premier Partnerships. That was the first time the company had done something like that. When you do that, you bring in a lot of knowledge. They've been very good at guiding us through the process. They were integral in getting this deal done this time around."
How soon will changes be made, logo, etc.?
Chris McGowan: "We hope to have the new logos finalized in the next four weeks or so. We're already starting the process of going through the entire campus and determining what signs we'll need to change. Our goal is to get a lot of it up by the start of the season but there's a lot of work to be done. It may take us a little bit into the season to have everything finalized. If I had to guess today, December 1 is when we would have everything. But we've been starting on that process over the last couple weeks and our goal is to accelerate and get it done as soon as possible."
Rose Garden name is dying for some fans
Chris McGowan: "It's kind of what we talked about in our remarks -- it's definitely not dying or going away, it will definitely be a part of our history and heritage. What I'll say to them, the vibe and the environment are still going to be the same. They're going to come and enjoy a Trail Blazers game and they're going to come to enjoy world-class concerts and family shows. It's going to be just as loud as it was when it was the other name. Hopefully they understand that this is what organizations do to go to another level. On the business side, we're trying to go to another level and that will have a direct, positive impact for those fans.
"Also, it mirrors what [GM] Neil [Olshey] is trying to do on the basketball side. He's here to kind of take our basketball team to another level. Organizationally, that will have a direct impact for fans connected with the Rose Garden."
Expansion in your company's future?
Dr. William Johnson: "Right now we're very comfortable with the states that we're in but we're also looking at opportunities in neighboring states as well."
How did you decide on Moda Center and how will fan experience change on game days?
Chris McGowan: "We just liked the way it sounded. I don't like long arena names. I think it's actually the perfect name for an arena. When you see the logo and the identity that we're going to unveil, it's really clean. ... I haven't seen many arenas out there that will have such a clean look from a logo perspective. We just liked it, we felt it flowed, rolled off the tongue well, that's how we picked it.
"[As far as the Rose Quarter], I expected more when I came here. We're going to look at this in a couple phases. Phase I is how can we bring the Rose Quarter alive on game nights. That's going to be priority No. 1. If we hit that out of the park, we'll worry about the nights when there aren't events here with built-in traffic.
Immediately our fans will see some differences, we'll do some work on the fountains that will change the arrival when people come to the Rose Quarter, we're working on a really unique food and beverage concept which we'll announce at a later date. We'll give fans a great food and beverage experience which mirrors what they get in the city of Portland.
"A place where they can come before events and after, which we currently don't have. We're going to look to do festivals at the Rose Quarter, we're talking to events that hold their events throughout the city and talking to them about bringing them to the Rose Quarter. Primarily we want it to come alive on game nights first. That's going to be the first phase."
Do you have your health insurance with Moda?
Chris McGowan: "We will. That's part of it. We're looking forward to that as well."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter