After the recent death of Paul Allen, owner of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL Seattle Seahawks, speculation mounted over the fate of the two franchises. A couple days ago, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that proceeds from the sale of the Seattle Seahawks will go to Paul Allen’s charitable foundation.
The report led The Oregonian’s John Canzano to analyze what this could mean for the future of the Blazers. Canzano offers three speculative assertions.
A) The Trail Blazers --- and the Vulcan, Inc.-owned Moda Center -- are estimated to be worth approximately $1.3 billion. The Seahawks, if sold, could set a North American record for valuation of a sports franchise. The NFL franchise is estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion. Allen might have just left his entire sports hobby to charity. That’s a cool thing. Spend a moment reflecting on that off the top.
B) Chris McGowan, the CEO of Vulcan Sports, did not return a message seeking comment on the subject. But multiple NBA sources have told me in the last couple of weeks that they believe the Blazers will eventually be sold. The timeline for that sale would be in the 18-36-month window.
C) The local ownership syndicate that makes the most sense involves Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. Paulson, who previously worked in the NBA league office, declined a request for comment, and that’s the right move given that this is all purely speculative until the franchise is for sale. The possibility of bundling season tickets between an MLS franchise and an NBA franchise is intriguing. Also, there’s sponsorship and television rights options that would make owning both entities attractive. Paulson’s father, Henry, has a net worth in the $1 billion range and is well connected to potential investors. Henry Paulson is the former Secretary of the Treasury and CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs. This option would ensure the Blazers as no threat to ever leave the Portland market.
Another possibility Canzano proposes is an ownership led by former Trail Blazers GM Bob Whitsitt, or even a potential Paulson-Whitsitt partnership. He goes on to add that his “NBA sources” do not envision a scenario in which the franchise leaves the city of Portland.
You can read his full article here