Trail Blazers fans have long dreamed that Portland may one day welcome the best and brightest in the NBA by way of hosting an NBA All-Star Weekend. And on Thursday, the team took steps to make that dream a reality by submitting a bid to host either the 2017 or 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Rip City.
“For our fan base, it’s long overdue, particularly in one of the few cities that has yet to actually host an NBA All-Star game,” said Chris Oxley, General Manager of the Rose Quarter. “This, quite frankly, could be the single-most significant sporting event or event in general that the city has every had the ability to host. I think that’s very meaningful in terms of Portland taking it to the next level as a host of future major events.”
The theme of the bid, which was submitted to the NBA on Wednesday and entitled “We Got Next,” promotes Portland as the 10th fastest growing city in the United States while noting major sportswear companies like Nike, adidas and Columbia are based in the area. The materials also call out Portland’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge while noting over 400 wineries and 60 breweries are all within an hour’s drive.
“True to being from Portland,” said Oxley, “the bid is very unique, very creative and I think different than what other cities would put together.”
Chris McGowan, President and CEO of the Trail Blazers, has been steadfast since taking the helm back in 2012 that bringing an All-Star Game to Portland was one of the organization’s priorities.
“Consistent with what we’ve said from Day One is when the opportunity to bid on any available All-Star Game occurs, we’d obviously put our best foot forward and bid,” said McGowan. “So we were kind of waiting until the opportunity presented itself, which happened three months ago.”
Since then, the Trail Blazers and the Rose Quarter have worked with with City of Portland, Metro, the Oregon Convention Center, Travel Portland, the Oregon Sports Authority and local hotels to craft the bid and assure that the logistical challenges that hosting an NBA All-Star game poses can be met.
“The NBA is not just looking for the team to play the lead role,” said Oxley. “They’re looking for a cohesive unit from the host team bid community to put the right bid together. As a basketball organization, we don’t have the ability to do this in and of ourselves. All of these guys are the legs on the stool to make this thing happen.”
A lack of hotel rooms in a centralized location has been one of the main reasons Portland has never been seriously considered to host the All-Star Game. But with a new convention center hotel currently in the works, the one nearly insurmountable obstacle to the Trail Blazers’ bid no longer exists.
“As we looked at this, it became clear to Chris (Oxley) and I that there really aren’t tremendous hurdles,” said McGowan. “The city is fully capable of hosting an All-Star game, the region is fully capable and we, obviously, have an arena and a campus and the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum and a Convention Center and eventually a convention center hotel all in very close proximity to each other.”
But even though McGowan and Oxley feel like they a strong case to bring an All-Star game to Portland, there’s also a number of other teams that would argue the same.
“The only hurdle would be, I’d say, competition amongst other teams that are bidding for this,” said McGowan. “We’ve heard there are anywhere from six to 10 other franchises bidding. Getting the NBA open-minded to coming to Portland — they’ve been on record saying that they would be willing to look at an All-Star Weekend in Portland.”
There is no deadline for the NBA to make the decision, though McGowan said he expects to hear from the league “sometime this year.” Until then, Trail Blazers fan will have to keep their fingers crossed that their All-Star dreams will finally come true.
— August 14, 2014