It was announced Monday evening that Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen had passed away after his fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The Blazers owner leaves behind a franchise that he’s owned since 1988. After initial reaction to the news, some have started to wonder about the future of the Blazers — Who will own them? Will they move from Portland? — and a few details have emerged in the immediate aftermath.
First, Sports Business Radio reported of a plan that’s been in place in case Allen passed, with his sister not wanting to take over ownership of the Blazers:
There has been a plan in place for the Blazers and Seahawks for a couple of years in the event of Paul Allen's death. Paul's sister Jody does not want to own either team according to my sources. So look for both teams to be sold by Allen's estate.— SportsBusinessRadio (@SBRadio) October 15, 2018
Sports Business Radio also notes how exchange of ownership works, with Allen also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks:
And John Canzano of The Oregonian has reported additional details in his column:
-- I’m told Trail Blazers, Inc. is technically owned by Allen’s holding company, Vulcan, Inc. Even as we all knew Allen owned the team, that’s how ownership was positioned. This means nothing will happen immediately. “It will take a while to sort out,” per a Blazers source.
-- NBA sources say that it’s possible that Neil Olshey’s job as general manager just got more difficult if Vulcan, Inc. is calling the shots. Money will become tighter. Deals will be harder to make. Keep an eye on that.
-- Bert Kolde, Vice Chairman of the Trail Blazers and a Senior Director at Vulcan, would have interest in ownership. Kolde, a long-time friend of Allen, has been a presence around the franchise for years. So he becomes one option. But wanting to own the team and actually landing it are far different things.
It’s also worth noting that the Blazers’ lease in the Moda Center with the City of Portland runs until at least 2025, per Maury Brown of Fobes (from 2016). Relocation fees would also be near $100 million, per Brown. So that would hinder any aims at moving the team with new ownership, along with other factors that Brown details.
We’ll update this story as new details emerge.