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SBJ/March 21-27, 2011/Forty Under 40
Forty Under 40
Published March 21, 2011, Page 13A
“We looked at about 15 different deals. Portland stood out,” Paulson said. “The properties we were acquiring hadn’t been well-managed, and there was a fair amount of organic growth potential.”
Paulson, eldest son of former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson Jr. and a former senior director of marketing for NBA Entertainment, said he started his revamp of the two teams with basic investments. He signed a TV deal with the local Fox affiliate and began marketing the teams on local radio and print media.
Then Paulson turned his attention to a larger project: gaining the Timbers entry into Major League Soccer. The linchpin in that project was convincing local taxpayers to agree to a $31 million renovation of PGE Park, to increase the stadium’s capacity from 16,000 to above 20,000. Convincing Portlanders to go along with the project, Paulson said, became a public — and at times ugly — debate.
“There is a very vocal group of local activists who are extremely anti-commercial, and [the PGE project] became a lightning rod,” Paulson said. “I developed thick skin. I never had it before.”
In January 2010, MLS approved the Timbers as the league’s 18th team. Two weeks later, the Portland city council voted 4-1 in favor of Paulson’s stadium plan, in which he paid $8 million up front and an additional $11.1 million in rent to the city, which borrowed $11.9 million for the remainder of the cost.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber credited Paulson for having “a passion for soccer and sports business.”
“I’m amazed at how quickly he’s been able to integrate himself in the Portland community, and not just be a key business person, but have influence on the city,” Garber said.
Title: Owner and president
TEAM: Portland Timbers
Education: B.A., English, Hamilton College, 1995; MBA, Harvard Business School
Family: Wife, Heather; one daughter
Career: Last title was NBA senior director of marketing and business development, responsible for marketing and business development efforts of NBA TV and NBA League Pass; assumed ownership of the Timbers in 2007; team named the 18th MLS franchise in March 2009
Last vacation: Colorado skiing holiday at Keystone
|What's on your iPod: Eclectic: Brandon
Flowers’ (of the Killers) new album, Eminem’s “Recovery,” Zac Brown Band, Kid Rock, Kanye
Guilty pleasure: US Weekly magazine
Best stress release: Trail running
Pet peeve: People who are late
Greatest achievement: Securing the deal with the city of Portland to get the public/private financing for the MLS venue completed; getting married and having a family
Greatest disappointment: Not being able to finalize a deal for baseball as well
Fantasy job: Pro bump skier
Business advice: Run toward problems.