Hey Phil, we have a plan to get the Blazers
Jody Allen stands between Oregon's billionaire and Portland's team. The I-5 Corridor has a plan to get the franchise back in local hands.
Yeah, I read Rachel Bachman’s account of your last two years in The Wall Street Journal. And let me tell you what, I’m peeved!
Who does Jody Allen think she is? You’re Oregon. You made an empire in Beaverton, you ushered the University of Oregon into new air and you’re the one who has cut checks for science and education and most recently a $400 million donation toward the revitalization of the Albina District.
Albina? I’ll take neighborhoods that Jody’s never stepped foot in for $100, Alex.
She’s supposed to sell the team — to be a steward of the franchise for which her brother cared so deeply. How is the guy as big as basketball itself who wants to breathe life into his home state team not the best option?
You kidding me?
Sure, not everyone in Portland is about the Swoosh. Some will scoff at your politics and, hell, even Damian Lillard is an Adidas guy. But good luck finding an Oregon billionaire with a track record of rising tides for people on both sides of the aisle. In your hands this franchise would be cared for. In your hands this franchise becomes a destination for players and fans. In your hands the Blazers become something more.
I can’t imagine how frustrating this must be for you — especially with the glee Allen has seemingly found in toying with you. Who doesn’t even have a conversation with a $2 billion offer in hand? As John Canzano reported this week, someone who doesn’t gain to profit from the sale, but one who is cashing near-nine-figure checks as the manager of her brother’s estate.
This isn’t a fair fight.
So here’s what you do: You buy the Arizona Coyotes.
I know. I know. You’ve turned down hockey before. It was nearly 20 years ago that a group from Portland tried to convince you to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins. They tried to sell you on Portland as a hockey market ready to ignite, one the NHL had targeted since the construction of the then-Rose Garden as a priority destination for the league. And it’s totally reasonable you didn’t have interest then. The league was just coming out of a lockout, Nike was beginning its retreat out of the hockey equipment game and the offense was just beginning to blur down in Eugene.
You had other priorities.
Meanwhile, Paul Allen would only take an NHL franchise at a bargain price, failing to land the bankrupt Penguins in 1999 and the Coyotes in 2001. So the NHL and Portland never became a thing. In the years since, hockey has gone bonkers in expansion cities of Las Vegas and Seattle, with both franchises averaging more than 100 percent capacity at the gate.
But I’m not here to make the argument to you about financials. Frankly, you didn’t get to where you are by taking money advice from a guy who willfully decided to start a sports journalism platform.
The argument I’m here to make is for revenge.
The reason why Paul wanted an NHL franchise only if it came on the cheap? Because he was frightened that bringing in a team whose season ran parallel to the Blazers could cannibalize his NBA franchise.
“I'm not anti-hockey at all, but I'm not a hockey fan, so the financial figures would have to make sense," he told The Oregonian in 1999.
The Coyotes need a new home, again, after Tempe voters turned down an arena proposal last month. The team will play next season in a 5,000-seat stadium on Arizona State’s campus and is owned by a guy the league would be happy to part with.
You’re smart. You can see where I’m going with this. Buy the team, move them to Portland, infuse them with cash and watch this Blazers town go crazy for the Portland Phillies.
It’s time to eat.
Of course the tricky part is the stadium. When the Portland group made its proposal to you in 2006 the Rose Garden was managed by the Portland Arena Management LLC, not Allen, and the concept of two franchises owned by separate billionaires in the same building had a better chance of flying than it does now since Paul bought the arena back in 2007.
Jody’s not going to just let you rent the ice out from underneath her. So you’re going to have to build something new. I don’t know where. I don’t know the cost. You have better people for that. But you can look across the professional sports landscape right now and see new stadium developments in the suburbs or along the edges of cities that have become economic drivers.
Look no further than the complex built for Atlanta’s Major League Baseball franchise, or what the Salt Lake City group is proposing to attract MLB and NHL. Secure the land, build the arena and make it a place where businesses, restaurants, fans and tourists flock to as the centerpiece of our sporting region.
Make fans choose who they give their dollars to, put pressure on Jody’s pocket. If she wants to wait 10 years to get a deal done — in 10 years you could be the guy responsible for turning Portland from a sports town into a sports destination.
The Blazers will sit on the market. No other billionaire is going to want to pay top dollar just to compete with the shoe king with an axe to grind.
So she’ll sell.
And you’ll move the team to the Knight Complex and your legacy in this city will be of a guy who created something incredible, again.
— Tyson Alger
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