SBD/October 30, 2012/NBA Season Preview

Welcome Aboard: Trail Blazers Announce AEG's Chris McGowan As President & CEO

McGowan will oversee all business operations for the Blazers, Rose Garden
The Trail Blazers have hired AEG Sports COO Chris McGowan as President & CEO. McGowan replaces Larry Miller, who resigned as the team's President in July to accept a position with Nike. McGowan will begin his new position with the Blazers on Nov. 12, and will manage all business operations of the team and the Rose Garden. Meanwhile, Seahawks and MLS Sounders President Peter McLoughlin assumes the role of Vulcan Sports & Entertainment CEO, which manages the professional sports properties of Paul Allen. McGowan will report to McLoughlin (Trail Blazers). In Portland, Joe Freeman notes McGowan has "worked with AEG since 1996" and was elevated to AEG Sports COO "after a successful stint as chief operating officer of the [NHL] Kings, during which he did the impossible: Sell the Kings -- and hockey -- to Los Angeles." AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said of McGowan, who this year was on SBJ/SBD's Forty Under 40 list, "He’s intense and driven and he wants to win and be successful. But he does it in a respectful way that is all about bringing people together" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/30). Also in Portland, John Canzano writes the hope is not that McGowan "will walk on water, or help a basketball team that feels headed to another NBA Draft Lottery find a miracle way out of this mess." Rather, the hope is that McGowan "can work closely enough with [GM Neil] Olshey to end the convoluted decade of madness and again make the basketball, not the business (or some gobbled combination) feel like it's driving the bus again." Canzano: "I know [Owner Paul] Allen wants to turn a tidy profit, and regain market enthusiasm, season-ticket renewals and piles of lost sponsorship dollars." But what the Blazers have been "woefully ignorant" about following Bob Whitsitt's departure in '03 is "just how successful sports franchises turn into successful businesses." Allen "isn't known as a great businessman," and his "biggest mistake has been an inability to recognize what's made him successful in the first place" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/30).

LEAVING TOWN: In Portland, Andy Giegerich noted the Blazers "passed over" team Exec VP & COO Sarah Mensah, who had "been expected to be a top candidate for the post." The McGowan announcement came "just after Mike Fennell, the team's longtime counsel, revealed he was leaving the Blazers" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/29). Giegerich in a separate piece noted Fennell "had been with the team for the past 20 years." He will now "serve as a legal consultant for the team as it looks for a replacement." In-house counsel Ben Lauritsen "will fill Fennell’s role as acting general counsel." Fennell has "worked on such matters as player contract negotiations during his tenure" and also has "served as general counsel for other" Allen-owned Portland affiliates (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/29).
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