Portland’s search for a President and Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Larry Miller at the beginning of the off-season didn’t take nearly as long or create as much of a stir as the team’s quest for a General Manager.
So, if you were wondering whether or not the Blazers would get a new CEO, or when that was going to happen, wonder no more. Yes, they are going to get a new big boss, and they’re going to get that guy right now.
Here is the official press release from the team:
CHRIS MCGOWAN NAMED TRAIL BLAZERS PRESIDENT AND CEO
AEG Sports Chief Operating Officer to lead organization’s business operations
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that Los Angeles sports executive Chris McGowan will be the Trail Blazers’ new President and Chief Executive Officer. McGowan joins the Trail Blazers from his position as Chief Operating Officer of AEG Sports, where he has played prominent leadership roles in the reigning NHL champion Los Angeles Kings and the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy.
“It is a great day for the Portland Trail Blazers as we welcome Chris to the Northwest,” said Trail Blazers Owner Paul Allen. “With his demonstrated leadership with the Kings and Galaxy, I am confident he will find ways to improve the Blazers’ business performance, which is key to the team’s overall success.”
McGowan replaces Larry Miller, who resigned as the team’s president in July to return to Nike, and joins General Manager Neil Olshey and Head Coach Terry Stotts, who were both hired earlier this year. He will assume his new position on November 12.
“With Chris now onboard, the Blazers’ new leadership team is complete,” Allen said.
“I am honored to take on this role,” said McGowan. “I have always admired the strength of the Trail Blazers’ brand and the passion of their fan base and am eager to join the staff as we continue building an organization the city can be proud of.”
McGowan will manage all business operations of the team and the Rose Garden. He will report to Peter McLoughlin, currently president of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC, who is assuming the role of CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment (VSE). VSE oversees the business operations of Allen’s sports franchises and facilities. McLoughlin will continue in his roles with the Seattle franchises as well as with First and Goal, Inc., which manages CenturyLink Field.
Olshey will continue to manage all basketball operations. He will report directly to Allen on basketball operations and collaborate with McGowan on budget and financial matters.
“I’m excited to work with Chris,” said Olshey. “I’m impressed with his leadership abilities and look forward to a successful collaborative effort.”
McGowan earned his degree in International Relations from the University of Delaware and began his career with AEG in 1996. His success in sales and his strong organizational and team-building skills propelled him up the ranks of AEG. In 2007, he was named Chief Operating Officer of the Kings, where he oversaw the team’s business operations and led the team to increased revenue from ticketing, sponsorships, concessions and other areas.
Earlier this year, McGowan was named COO of the newly formed sports division, AEG Sports. In addition to overseeing the Kings and the Los Angeles Galaxy, McGowan assisted with the operations for all of AEG’s sports teams around the world.
For those who don’t know, AEG is a huge company that owns a lot of stuff including LA Live, the O2 Arena, the Home Depot Center, and The Staples Center. AEG also currently manages the Rose Garden. The New Yorker ran a great profile of AEG’s principal managers Philip Anschutz (the A in AEG Anschutz Entertainment Group) and Tim Leiweke, detailing AEG’s rise in professional sports and high-end entertainment. Tim Leiweke’s brother Tod is the former President of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, Paul Allen’s company that owns the Blazers. I’d link the New Yorker article, but it’s behind a pay-wall.
The Blazers have released statements from Tim Leiweke and Chris McGowan.
Here they are:
Statement from Tim Leiweke, President and Chief Operating Officer of AEG:
“I have had the good fortune of working closely with Chris and being a part of his career and life for over 20 years. He came to us early on and was part of, not only the vision for STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE, but the Kings and eventually the Galaxy. He has been an important part of everything we do here. He has helped us shape our vision, create our passion and establish AEG as one of the top sports and entertainment organizations in the country. He will certainly be missed, but there are only a handful of these positions in sports, and this is truly a lifetime opportunity for him. With our facility management division operating the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, we look forward to continuing to work with him. We wish him and his family the very best and thank him immensely for everything he has done for the Kings, the Galaxy and AEG.”
Statement from Chris McGowan, Trail Blazers new President and Chief Executive Officer:
“Upon my departure, I’d like to thank Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke for allowing me to be part of AEG for the past 17 years. The experience that I have gained will be invaluable as I transition to the next phase of my career. AEG is a first class organization and I wish everyone associated with the company nothing but success in the future. I am excited to be joining Paul Allen and his management team, in particular Bert Kolde, Peter McLoughlin and Neil Olshey. I am honored that they have selected me to lead the Trail Blazer’s organization. I admire the strength of the Trail Blazer’s brand and the passion of their fan base. I am eager to join the staff and continue to build an organization of which the city can be proud. This is an exciting time to be part of the NBA and the Trail Blazers’ organization and my family and I are looking forward to relocating to the great city of Portland.”