On Wednesday, Trail Blazers team president Chris McGowan, vice president/general manager of the Rose Quarter Chris Oxley and vice president of premium seating Anthony Jones-Deberry hosted a tour at the Moda Center to show off some of the newest capital improvements of a $16 million renovation of the almost 20 year-old building. After upgrading concessions on the 100 level last year, improvements to the concourse on the club level, remodeled suites and a new bar on the 300 level overlooking the westside of Portland are currently being worked on, with the expectation being that all of the most recent upgrades will be completed in time for the 2014-15 NBA season.
“When people come to events at the Rose Quarter, we want it to be special and we feel the Rose Quarter is part of that experience,” said McGowan. “Maybe a year and a half ago, when the fountain wasn’t working, the lighting wasn’t on the arena, the landscaping wasn’t what we would like it to be and we didn’t have a place like Dr. Jack’s to go to, people were just kind of walking over the Rose Quarter, coming in and watching an event. We think we can do better than that. With all the stuff you’ve seen on the Rose Quarter, people can come a little bit earlier and enjoy their time coming to an event or a concert. And then afterward, if they want to let traffic die down or wait for a train, you have a place to go to as well. We’re extending that event experience for everyone who comes to the Rose Quarter.”
The club level, after years of serving an all-you-can-eat buffet to club level ticket holders, will now function more like a standard concourse, with concession stands similar to those on the 100 level.
“We were an all-inclusive club environment going on eight years,” said Oxley. “It wasn’t, I think, the right business-to-business environment that we were looking for. To our club level constituency, it didn’t necessarily play into the premium level experience. What was up here before was all-inclusive, chef’s table buffet-like environment. Those are going away specifically to go back to a premium concession environment where club level guests will have store value on their ticket essentially.”
Now, those who purchase club level tickets will receive a $30 credit per game which can be used to purchase concessions at Bunk, The Nook, Cha! Cha! Cha!, Salt & Straw and Hot Stone on the club level or any of the other concession stands throughout the Moda Center. The credit can also be used to purchase merchandise at any of the fan shops on the concourse.
“We’re reinventing the culinary experience in its entirety for our premium seat holders, adding six new high-end concession locations up on the club level,” said Oxley. “We’re going away from an all-inclusive environment on the club level to a premium concession environment that has more point of sale, more variety, more options.”
“We had Bunk sandwiches up on the 300 level last year. It was a real destination, I think, for people all through the building. We’re trying to get people to move around the concourses and different levels a lot more than they have in the past. This is a great opportunity, I think, to the exclusivity of the club level for Bunk Sandwiches to have a really marque location here. This was a general concession stand before.” — Chris Oxley, VP/GM of the Rose Quarter
“We’re really looking forward to bringing Cha! Cha! Cha! into the Moda Center. This is their first introduction into the building. Mexican, obviously, is a great seller, particularly when you have a lot of diversity. A good Mexican concept is ideal for us as a location. A very approachable location.” — Chris Oxley, VP/GM of the Rose Quarter
“Italian as a type of food was called out within a club level survey of that we did as to what is missing the most (from the club level). So we’ve designed Hot Stone. We’ll be doing pizza ,we’ll be doing baked ziti. On one side you’ll have all the hot food and point of sale, then on the left side we’ll do Italian sodas, cappuccinos and tiramisu. So it’s going to be a full-service Italian location for the club level.” — Chris Oxley, VP/GM of the Rose Quarter
“Junction 5 is probably the closest ode to a traditional location that we’ll have on this level. The top sellers in a food and beverage environment are always going to be hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, pretzels, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t provide those offerings. But it will be a unique twist in terms of Junction 5, where there will be a fully developed condiment location. So if you have the ability to be creative with your food, you’re going to have that at Junction 5.” — Chris Oxley, VP/GM of the Rose Quarter
As a part of the improvements, all of the Moda Center’s suites will be completely remodeled, with 21 of the arena’s private suites this year and 10 more next year, and the construction of never-before-available “Studio Suites” and a premium “365 Studio.”
“It’s a double suite (pictured above), which is something that we’re contemplating doing as well. From a capacity perspective, this size works when you want to entertain here. I think the look and feel is great, the lighting is great, it feels modern, it’s open. I think one of the problems if you look at our older suites and what we’re doing with the executive suites, people want an open feel where they can stand up, mingle at a high table, have some food, have a cocktail while they’re watching the game as well. So I really feel good about how we’ve opened these suites up.” — Chris McGowan, Trail Blazers president and CEO
“The whole point was to not only modernize the suites but also we had to create some differentiation amongst our suites sizes. Basically, our suite product was essentially all the same. We had the party suite, which can hold 100-plus people, but the other 66 suites that we had were all the exact same, they all had the exact same look, the exact same feel. The truth of the matter is that as we a number of clients, not only our executive suite clients who have suites on longterm leases, but also our nightly suite rentals, they have varying needs in regards to size and the number of people they want to entertain at a given moment. So what we’ve done is created a new product.” — Anthony Jones-Deberry, VP of premium seating
“This is the first renovation to the exterior of the Moda Center in it’s history,” said Oxley. “We’ve coined it “The Pines.” This is an ode to our 300 level demographic and something we’re really excited about offering to the folks who sit in the upper deck. This used to be an outdoor smoking area, and now we’re in a position to offer this really unique bar venue with a food component associated with it as well with views of the city that are not found anywhere else from the eastside.”
Everybody is really excited about this opportunity. It was an underutilized space for many years. It overlooks the Essential Forces fountain, Dr. Jack’s, the city, Broadway Bridge and downtown. Really a unique opportunity. I think we’ll have people coming from the 100 level just to check out the space. I think that’s what makes it so cool is we’ve created an environment that’s going to be really special for these folks. — Chris Oxley, VP/GM of the Rose Quarter
“A really unique environment. We’ve made a very conscious engagement to keep it bright and alive and open and create these floor-to-ceiling glass views of not only downstairs in the Rose Quarter but pretty much all of downtown. At night, truly spectacular and unmatched in terms of views from this side of town.” — Chris Oxley, VP/GM of the Rose Quarter
Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.
Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.
But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.
“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”
Sounds about right.
On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.
You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…
On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”
On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”
On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”
His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”
On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”
On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”