SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Game Changers

Game Changers: Sarah Mensah

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JIM TAYLOR / PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Mensah stands with son Davis, 11, outside the Rose Garden, which received gold LEED certification.
Sarah Mensah
Portland Trail Blazers
Chief Operating Officer

As one of the most successful and respected executives in the NBA, Sarah Mensah plays a huge role in shaping the Portland Trail Blazers’ brand while also driving its business. Portland has sold out the Rose Garden since December 2007, and since that year, the team has seen its ticket revenue more than double. Sponsorship revenue is up double digits in the past year, as well. Mensah also is willing to push new business frontiers: Consider that the Blazers were the first team to stream games live on their website. But it’s the team’s community influence that has notably grown under Mensah, who joined the Blazers in 1993. The Blazers are a founding partner of the Green Sports Alliance. Since that group’s broad North American launch earlier this year, 80 teams and venues have joined the alliance. Mensah also was an integral part of the Blazers achieving gold LEED certification status for the Rose Garden in 2010.

— John Lombardo
  • First job: Production coordinator for local NBC affiliate KGW-TV.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: My current boss, Larry Miller, who has been a mentor and the most significant contributor to my career in sports.
  • Woman in sports business you'd most like to meet: Billie Jean King, because she is this amazing icon of what it means to achieve as a female in a predominately male environment.
  • If I had to do it all over again, I would …: Do everything the same, except maybe to start my family earlier. My son is turning 12, and I feel old at 46.
  • Ten years from now, I hope to be …: At a professional sports presidents meeting (either NFL, NBA or MLB) with a lot of other women there who are running teams. I’d also like to be able to have achieved the ultimate: winning a championship and turning a profit all at the same time.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“[Sarah] has got an extremely demanding schedule and she is on everyone’s radar screen, but she makes you feel important.”

  • Don Pearson, regional president, Wells Fargo Bank, a team sponsor
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