Trail Blazers Are Not Moving to Seattle


Trail Blazers fans have no need to worry, despite local radio station stirring up the discussion

A Seattle owner hired a legendary Seattle play-by-play announcer to increase the probability of striking a long term TV deal with a Seattle-based station in order to expand Seattle viewership. Are you concerned?

Quickly after Kevin Calabro was hired by the Portland Trail Blazers this week, conspiracy theorists in Portland began wondering about the future. 102.9 The Game’s ‘Fletch and Chop’ wasted a whole afternoon yesterday talking about why and when the Trail Blazers could move to Seattle, angering Blazers fans in the process.

It’s a pretty far-fetched theory based on the hiring of Calabro. However, the firing of Mike Barrett specifically, a decent play-by-play announcer, did imply some sort of ulterior motive.

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It is no secret that the Seattle is anxious to bring professional basketball back to the Emerald city. It’s also not a secret that Seattle is one of the most appealing markets in the United States for a professional sports team with the amount of corporate sponsors and billionaires in the area – meaning the NBA owners will approve of a move when the time is right. However, it will not be Portland as the team to move.

The NBA generally moves teams that do not have a strong, passionate following, and/or are in need of a new stadium and cannot get one built. The Blazers fit neither of those qualifications. Luckily, the Blazers have a lease agreement with the Moda Center, or Rose Quarter, that runs through 2025. (They also have an agreement that all home games are to be played in Portland, regardless of arena, through 2023) Obviously, the Blazers have a passionate following and do well in attendance relative to the rest of the NBA. The corporate sponsors are appealing in Seattle, but there are more appealing NBA teams to move than Portland.

Trail Blazers crowd
Nov 11, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers mascot Blaze waves the team flag before the game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Charlotte Hornets at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports /

Even if the firing of Barrett and Rice to hire a well-respected announcer like Calabro sweetens the deal for a move to Seattle-based Root Sports after 2018, it does not mean a franchise relocation is in the cards. Root Sports captures more television viewers in general, which is always a good thing. Although Seattle SuperSonics fans are unlikely to switch allegiances, there is a young generation now that is growing up without an NBA team in Seattle. If the Trail Blazers are on Seattle television all the time and the Sonics never return to Seattle – Eventually, the Trail Blazers will be the Pacific Northwest’s team, just as the Seahawks and Mariners are loved in Portland.

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The hiring of Calabro is a great move for the Trail Blazers and no one should be worried. However, if more Seattle-inspired moves continue to fall in place, it’s worth revisiting this discussion. When owners have everything in place for a potential relocation, it happens very quickly, leaving fans in disbelief… Just ask Seattle.