SBD/March 8, 2013/Franchises

Profile Shows Trail Blazers' McGowan Not Afraid To Shake Things Up With Club

McGowan said he will be cautious when negotiating Rose Garden naming rights
Trail Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan is profiled by the PORTLAND TRIBUNE's Kerry Eggers, who notes it "didn't take long ... for McGowan to shake things up." Two months in, the team has "laid off 11 of their 167 full-time employees, including several long-time high-ranking executives." McGowan believes the Blazers are "pretty much past" layoffs, but said, "Every year you have to be willing to do what’s right for the business.'" McGowan: “We’ll add some more, for sure. Part of this is paving the way to add resources in areas we need." He added, "That’s the exciting thing with what’s going on with us right now. There’s a new influx of thinking that is taking people who have been here a long time and have only known the Trail Blazers, and they’re getting excited by it." Eggers notes McGowan has "learned quickly what the Blazers mean to many Portlanders." He said, “It’s an interesting platform to be in charge of. We need to operate like we are (the show), but in a humble way. This is a big institution in Portland, and we need to manage the business to that end.” McGowan: “I want to become a season ticket-holder-first organization, ensure they get the best access, the best service, the best pricing, the best benefits, and we tie a lot of it to tenure. I’m not so sure season ticket-holders feel that way right now."

GOALS GOING FORWARD: McGowan intends to "hire more sales people, to bring in more marketing experience, to perform a makeover of the Blazers’ websites and digital properties." He said, “I’m not happy with any of our websites." The Blazers are "at about 13,000 season tickets," but only "about 30 of the Garden's 57 all-events luxury suites are leased on an annual basis." McGowan said, "We need to be at 40 or 45 there, so we don't have to sell so many on a nightly basis." McGowan also noted, "If we can get a naming rights deal done and maintain relationship with our current partners, we’re going to be sitting exactly where we need to be on the sponsorship side.” McGowan and Premier Partnerships, the firm hired to assist with landing a naming-rights deal, have a "list of about 100 businesses -- some local, some national -- that have a likelihood of interest." Three or four presentations have "already been scheduled." McGowan: "I'm going to be very cautious about it. I'm not going to do a deal with the wrong brand" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 3/8).
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