One local reporter says Jody Allen, the sister of late Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, plans to put the team on the market.
If you woke up this morning and noticed several sports websites reporting that Jody Allen, the sister of late Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, planned to sell the team, you might be forgiven for having a moment of panic.
Numerous websites went ahead with bold headlines that would lead you to believe the team was already on the market.
“Jody Allen plans to sell Blazers, team now valued at $1.85 billion,” read the headline at Clutch Points.
‘Trail Blazers now said to be worth $1.85 billion — and Jody Allen is going to sell,” Yahoo! Sports declared.
Where was all of this coming from?
Turns out it is all speculation from NBC Sports Northwest columnist Dwight Jaynes, who penned an article Tuesday afternoon.
“Jody Allen is going to sell this team,” Jaynes wrote. “I’m not sure when, because it probably has to await the untangling of all of Paul Allen’s assets.”
Who is Jaynes’ source for this bombshell breaking news?
Why, Dwight Jaynes, of course.
Turns out, it’s pure speculation based on Forbes‘ most recent list of NBA franchise values, which puts Portland at $1.85 billion (the never-ending train wreck that is the New York Knicks is reported worth $4.6 billion).
By the way, it should be noted that Paul Allen purchased the Trail Blazers in 1988 for $70 million. How’s that for appreciation?
This isn’t a knock on Jaynes. He’s a great journalist who has been covering the Trail Blazers for longer than pretty much anyone in Portland. He’s entitled to his opinion, and it may turn out that he’s right.
After all, by most accounts, Jody Allen isn’t nearly the basketball fan her brother was. And if you could actually find someone to pay you nearly two BILLION dollars for a professional sports team in a small NBA market, you’d think long and hard about it.
The issue is more with the other websites writing articles based on Jaynes’ opinion without making it clear just what is was: one man’s view of the potential future, based on nothing more than a gut feeling.
This dredges up the second-greatest fear of any Blazers fan (number one being a trade demand from Damian Lillard), that what befell our former rivals to the north would happen here.
If you’ll recall, in 2006 the Seattle Supersonics were sold by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz to Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma City businessman who initially promised to keep the team in the Emerald City. When efforts to secure $220 million in public funding for improvements to KeyArena fell through, Bennett moved the team to OKC, renaming them the Thunder.
That move has long since sparked plenty of rumors, speculation, and fear that Paul Allen would uproot the Trail Blazers and move them to his home city of Seattle.
Since his passing, there has been plenty of speculation that, if Jody Allan did end up selling the team, some billionaire like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos might snap the Blazers up and move them north.
That might make sense on the surface, but there are a couple of reasons why Portlanders can rest easy that you won’t be losing your only professional sports team (sorry, Timbers fans) anytime soon.
First, the Blazers have a lease with the city of Portland that runs through 2025, and that includes an ironclad clause that keeps the team here at least through 2023.
Also, there isn’t much incentive for any new owner to move the team. There’s no existing dispute over the need for a new arena. The team has done a good job of keeping the Moda Center updated and modern over the 25 years (already?!?) since it opened. No one seems to be saying that the team needs a new arena anytime soon.
Seating capacity is nearly 20,000, which is in the upper tier when it comes to NBA arenas.
And the Trail Blazers haven’t had much of a problem keeping those seats full, despite the team’s struggles over the years. They haven’t had many sellouts this season, but they still rank well within the top ten in the league when it comes to average home attendance.
All of this to say that Mr. Jaynes may well be right (though, again, he’s only citing his gut feeling, and doesn’t seem to have any credible source to back that up). Even if Jody Allen sells the team, it seems highly unlikely that the Trail Blazers will play anywhere but Portland, Oregon for the foreseeable future.