Portland Fire Sale

The group that runs Oregon’s Rose Garden Arena and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen agreed June 7th that when the time comes, the venue and basketball team will be sold together.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Portland Arena Management. We look forward to working with PAM to explore ways to enhance the future prospects of the Trail Blazers franchise and the Rose Garden Arena,” said Lance Conn of Vulcan, Allen’s holding company.

At least two parties have expressed interest in the team, one led by former Blazer Terry Porter and another by Mark Wattles, who founded Hollywood Video.

Allen announced the team was in financial straits as the Blazers were wrapping up one of the worst seasons in its history. The agreement would make it easier to sell the team.

Earlier this year, Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, said the Blazers were hemorrhaging money and he was seeking a public partnership to keep them in Portland.

Part of the reason the Blazers lost money included Allen’s relinquishing of ownership of the Rose Garden by declaring bankruptcy in 2004. That meant lost revenue from luxury suites, among other areas.

Vulcan and Portland Arena Management, the group of bondholders that now runs the venue, had struggled to find common ground on an agreement that would allow the team and the building to be sold together – making the Blazers more desirable for a buyer.

“As the owners of the Rose Garden, we see this process as potentially helping to accelerate the advancement of the Rose Garden for the benefit of our respective groups,” PAM chairman Tomas Luther said.

In March, the two sides were so far apart that the NBA pulled out of negotiations to help find a solution. Allen had estimated the team would lose some $100 million over the next three seasons.

The NBA and commissioner David Stern would be involved in deciding the team’s future, Vulcan spokesman Andy Brimmer said.

Allen’s representatives will also continue discussions with the city of Portland.