From: PDX Tribune
Paul Allen isn’t averse to the idea of repurchasing the Rose Garden — as long as the price tag reflects what he considers a better bargain.
The owner of the Trail Blazers said he doesn’t regret turning over the arena to the group of bondholders who assumed ownership of the arena Jan. 1, but wishes circumstances hadn’t forced it to be the case.
Allen said he is confident the team’s eroded fan base will return to previous levels once it begins winning on a regular basis again, but added that the NBA club’s short-term plans are to further reduce payroll and not be a player in the major free-agent market.......
..................................“When we structured the agreement, the assumption was our games would be sellouts forever,” Allen said. “In pro sports, that’s not realistic. For any NBA team in a small- or medium-sized market, you have to have three things — an advantageous arena deal, a strong fan base and a modest payroll — to be a financial success. Right now, we don’t have those things. We have one of the worst facility deals in the league. With the rebuilding roster and the off-the-court issues we’ve had, the fan base is down. And we still have a very high payroll. We are still paying off players like Derek Anderson and Shawn Kemp.
“If you are a Sacramento or San Antonio — very competitive teams with favorable arena deals — it can all work out. In our rebuilding situation, with our arena deal, it made no sense to continue our ownership (of the Rose Garden).”
But can the Blazers hope to make money without owning the building and without controlling ancillary revenue streams from suites, concessions, parking and signage?
“It’s more challenging,” Allen said. “It’s a very challenging situation. Of course, it would help to own the building, but it wouldn’t close the gap between having a lower fan base and the lesser revenue coming in.”
Couldn’t Allen, with his considerable wealth, have just written a check to cover the debts and keep the Rose Garden?
“There would be an additional deficit of high amounts every year — a very significant number — to have avoided bankruptcy and allow us to retain ownership of the arena,” he said. “There was insufficient money coming in to pay for that. It’s like — and I’m just throwing these numbers out — paying $50 million to gain $3 million in revenue. The answer is clearly no.”..........
..........Allen’s goal always has been to bring a championship to Portland. The current team is unlikely to do that in the near future. Have all the losses in the last couple of years dimmed his enthusiasm for the Blazers?
“Not at all,” he said. “I love seeing young players develop. I always enjoyed watching guys like Cliff Robinson and Drazen Petrovic when they were young. It doesn’t bother me at all that we’re going through the rebuilding process. The financial challenge — that’s something that’s not quite as much fun.”..........