Blazers' McGowan Discusses Moda Naming-Rights Move, Company's First Sports Deal
The Trail Blazers "looked at 317 companies, including some national and international businesses," before agreeing to a naming-rights deal with Moda Health for the Rose Garden, according to a front-page piece by Mike Tokito of the Portland OREGONIAN. Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan said that the team and California-based Premier Partnerships "had 'deep conversations' with 10 to 12 companies before whittling down the list to four 'active' prospects." Moda President William Johnson said that the Trail Blazers and Premier "first approached Moda in January, even though the company had never held -- or even considered -- a sports-related sponsorship before." But Johnson added that Moda officials "felt a 'synergy' with the Blazers' vision for the Rose Garden and for what a partnership could accomplish." The team said that the deal "will help Rip City Management make several improvements in and around the Rose Garden, including a redesign and restoration of the arena's trademark water fountain feature; adding food options to the commons and arena; better signage; better pedestrian traffic flow from public transit; and added entertainment and community-building efforts to the commons." Tokito notes the area that includes the Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum "will retain the name Rose Quarter." Moda Center becomes the "second major Oregon sports facility with a corporate name," along with Jeld-Wen Field (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/14). McGowan said that the deal is "broader than simply naming rights, and will encompass healthy kids and other healthy living initiatives, reinvesting in the Rose Quarter and making it a cultural hub." The "goal is to get the new signage up by the start of the NBA season" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/13).
TAKING FANS BY SURPRISE: KATU-ABC's Debora Knapp noted Portland residents knew the name change "was coming, but let's just say the announcement caught a lot of fans by surprise." KATU's Dan Cassuto noted many fans "expected a big, familiar sponsor to takeover the name of the Rose Garden." McGowan said the opportunity for Moda Health to gain name recognition is “one of the reasons why they're interested in doing this partnership.” Johnson said, "We have not actually advertised for the last four or five years, and we felt that this was a time that we would commit some resources." Trail Blazers announcer Mark Mason said he is “still getting used to it” and that Moda Center “sounds like a Russian car when you first hear it.” However, he added, “It’s proof that advertising works. It’s on the lips of two million Portlanders today, so already it’s a good buy” (KATU-ABC, 8/13). However, KGW-NBC’s Pat Dooris said of the arena's name, “Now that it’s changing, a lot of people do not like it. In fact there’s even a Facebook page and an online petition to try and change it back” (KGW-NBC, 8/13). KPTV-Fox's Ben Senger said, "Some people, no matter how long this goes on with the new name, will still be calling the building the Rose Garden" (KPTV-Fox, 8/13).