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.
Here's a transcript of the introductory press conference held by Blazers president Chris McGowan and Moda Health president Dr. William Johnson.
The initial reaction on Twitter to the news was pretty ugly.
The following is a quick Q&A with McGowan following the press conference.
Blazersedge: What details can you reveal about the facility improvements and experience improvements that you mentioned will come from this deal that will directly benefit fans?
Chris McGowan: "It goes into all aspects of the organization. It goes hand in hand with everything that we do. It could be we are putting money into the practice facility to help our players have a better experience. We're really focused on, this year, the stuff that we're talking [about] at the Rose Quarter, game nights, the fountain, more of a sense of arrival when people get there. Then, the food and beverage experience as a whole needs to be updated and upgraded. We're doing wifi this year. It helps as a catalyst to all of that in Year One."
Blazersedge: Better wifi?
Chris McGowan: "Significantly improved, hopefully in time for opening night.
"Next year is going to be more about the clubs, the suites, the seats, the stuff that fans experience when they're in here. So we're also talking about lighting, I think the building could use colored lighting on the exterior to make it come alive a little bit. It's all over the map.
"We're honing in on our capital improvement strategy over the next three years. I have a board meeting in September in which we're going to go through and prioritize some things that they think are important, and go from there. Because we are doing bigger deals and partnerships, we have the ability to now address some things that didn't get addressed."
Blazersedge: You've executed multiple rounds of lay-offs over the last year. Does this deal allow you to add personnel?
Chris McGowan: "Personnel-wise, we set our levels based on my experience and what I know that we need. I feel really good about where we're at. I've been very public about when I got here, we had too many people, there was some dysfunction in terms of decision-making in the organization from the layers and levels of different management. We've cleared that up.
"I'm really happy with our management team. I'm really happy with the levels we have in our sales and sponsorship areas, I'm really happy with the number of people we have running the arena now. We should be set there. That piece of business that we had to work on is done and finalized and we're not really talking about that. It's about going forward with the team that we have. We don't anticipate any changes."
Blazersedge: Recent reports indicated that more than 100 companies were considered for this partnership and that you whittled it down to three finalists. Can you confirm/deny?
Chris McGowan: "I'd like to clarify that. We reached out to 317 companies. That was through Premier [Partnerships]. As people would get more serious, my team would come in and we would bring all of our resources to talk through it.
"The characterization that we had three finalists is incorrect. What I said is that we had three or four active prospects. It was never, 'Hey, you guys are the finalists, let's go.' They were active prospects that we were talking to that were very interested in the opportunity.
"When things progressed with Moda, we put all of our attention there. I really wanted to do something with a local company, I felt that that was important with this opportunity."
Blazersedge: What other types of companies were in the mix for this agreement?
Chris McGowan: "We talked to electronics firms, financial services firms, technology firms, sustainable, renewable energy firms because this is such a green city, then we narrowed in on an insurance company."
Blazersedge: The initial feedback on Twitter has been very negative. How do you respond? Do you think people will eventually accept the name?
Chris McGowan: "We just felt Moda Center was iconic, it's short, it's easy to remember, it rolls off the tongue really well. I think once people realize what these types of deals do for our organization in terms of taking us to another level, they'll adapt [to] it.
"We're conscious of [negative feelings towards name change]. We want to make sure they understand why we did the deal and we'll be monitoring it and talking to people if they are completely upset, but we don't anticipate it will be a large number of people."
Blazersedge: This was an extended process that unfolded over the course of a number of months. What's your sense of satisfaction having completed one of your stated goals?
Chris McGowan: "It's always great accomplishing goals. It feels good. What I really feel good about is that we have a really good partner that wants to be partners in a big way. That's a perfect partnership. That's exciting. For me, I want to get it rolled out and executed. I have a list of 10 things that we want to go accomplish over the next six months. That's what we're going to turn our attention to because there's a lot of things still to be done on the business side of things."
Blazersedge: What were the terms of the deal? You said 10 years and it was initially reported as $4.2 millon per year.
Chris McGowan: "We don't talk about any of the financial terms. I can deny that [$4.2 million] was the amount this deal was done for on an annual basis. I will say that it was in the ballpark. It was in the ballpark."
Photo via Blazers Courtside
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