For years, the Portland Trail Blazers have been known for their special relationship with their rabid fanbase, a bond increasingly rare in today’s corporate landscape. However, several financially beneficial business decision over the last few years have impacted the uniqueness of the franchise.
Last week’s announcement of Biofreeze as the official corporate jersey sponsor of the team not only capped off a mostly miserable off-season for Blazers fans, but also showed just how out of touch the team is with its fans. Teasing a “big announcement” to a fanbase desperate for hope not only comes across as tone deaf, but begs the question as to why anyone in the organization thought a public proclamation of a pain reliever having their name plastered on the team’s uniform would get anybody excited in the first place?
One would have thought that the nightmarish response to renaming the Rose Garden the Moda Center would have cued the front brass in that their fans don’t care about something that does nothing but line the pockets of ownership with money that can’t be used to make the on-court product any better.
That being said, a different approach would have likely gathered a more favorable reaction. Several teams have been able to spin what is essentially a money grab as an opportunity to at least tie-in the sponsorship to the city they represent. The Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers notably latched on with iconic local companies in Harley-Davidson and Goodyear, respectively. The obvious issue for the Blazers here is that the most obvious major company that represents the state is Nike, who’s swoosh is already emblazoned on every NBA jersey. Still, there had to have been a plausible local option, even if it required thinking outside the box.
Fans will still show up and support their team, largely because it remains the only “big four” franchise in town. However, there is a palpable sense that BlazerManiacs are growing increasingly more cynical of their team. Each corporate-based decision makes the team more profitable, put at the same time drives a wedge between it and the very fans they rely on to make the operation work.
How much do the jersey patches and other corporate decisions matter to you? Comment below!