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
Howdy kind listeners. Before we all take some much needed respite before the start of a brutal March schedule, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the studios at the Moda Center to record an All-Star break edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this week’s episode we marvel at the Trail Blazers being 27-27, good for seventh in the Western Conference, and how that’s going to cost Freeman some money/beer at some point, the emergence of Maurice Harkless since joining the starting lineup, Portland rising while other teams in their general range struggle, discuss how we’ll be spending our respective All-Star breaks and answer a host of questions pertaining to the upcoming trade deadline, Gerald Henderson’s tenure in Portland, Damian Lillard passing Brandon Roy and a bunch of other stuff that I’ve already since forgotten. As I noted during the show, my brain is already on vacation.
You can find the Rip City Report on Soundcloud, iTunes and Stitcher. And consider using a small portion of the time you would usually spend watching the Blazers to give us a review on iTunes! You can be as mean as you want!
Though they were never teammates, Damian Lillard and Brandon Roy manage to talk from time to time. Their relationship started not long after Lillard was selected by the Trail Blazers with the sixth overall pick of the 2012 Draft and they’ve stayed in contact ever since over the years. During those somewhat regular chats, the current and former faces of the Trail Blazers’ franchise sometimes discuss the responsibility that comes with that title, especially at a relatively young age, and what could have been if the 6-3 guard out of Weber State and the now-retired 6-6 guard out of Washington ever had the opportunity to play alongside each other in Rip City.
And the next time they talk, they’ll have something new to discuss. With his 31-point performance in Tuesday night’s victory versus the Rockets, Lillard passed Roy for 15th in franchise history in points. Lillard now has 6,119 in less than four seasons in Portland, surpassing the the 6,107 points that Roy scored in five seasons before knee injuries ended his career far too prematurely.
“I mean, that’s an honor,” said Lillard of passing Roy. “Just to be moving up on that list period, but I mean, if Brandon Roy got to play as long as he should have played and people would have liked to have seen him play, I probably would never pass him, so it’s a great accomplishment. It’s an honor you know, but the more important thing is just continuing to be myself and continuing to win games.”
Which Lillard has done an excellent job of his season. He’s the only player to rank in the top-6 in both scoring (24.3 points per game) and assists (7.3 assist per game) this season and has led the Trail Blazers to a 27-27 record this season, vastly outperforming preseason expectations, despite being the only holdover from last season’s starting five.
Though he’s had plenty of help this season from the likes of CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Mason Plumlee and Ed Davis, Lillard’s performance through 54 games is the the primary reason that the Trail Blazers enter the All-Star break in seventh place in the Western Conference. Roy, a three-time All-Star, was a fantastic player in his own right, a player whose peak performances are still the stuff of legend in Portland, but even he never carried the load that Lillard has this season. And of course, Lillard has already helped the Trail Blazer win a playoff series in his first four season in Portland, something Roy never accomplished.
“He’s been pretty good in a short amount of time,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of Lillard. “I mean, Brandon Roy, I wasn’t here for that, but I know what an imprint he made on the city and the franchise and how important he was to the Blazers. The fact that Damian has passed him this early in his career really says something because I know how good Brandon was. I know his career was cut short but everybody here holds him in high regard.”
Assuming Lillard experiences relatively good health — the seven games he missed this season due to plantar fascitiis are the only games he’s missed in his profession career thus far — there’s no reason to think that he won’t replace Roy as the best guard to play in Portland since Clyde Drexler, if he hasn’t taken that mantel already. But Roy can take some satisfaction in knowing that at least some of the success Lillard has had as a Trail Blazer was accomplished in part due to emulating the example he set on and off the court.
“When (Roy) got to Portland, a lot of the stuff he did, it brought excitement,” said Lillard. “I think the city really embraced him, they liked who he was as a person along with what he did as a player, obviously. I think because I kind of came and did the same thing, did some of the same things he did, I think he respects that… He was well respected, people appreciated the kind of person he was and he got it done on the floor. I think I can say the same for myself.”
PORTLAND — What a nice way to go into the All-Star break.
For the second time in five days, the Trail Blazers built a large third-quarter lead against the Rockets, then allowed them to make a comeback, only to make a final push to come away with the double-digit victory, this time to the tune of a 116-103 win in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 at the Moda Center.
“I really like the way we’re playing right now,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Defensively, we’ve been really good the last two or three weeks. Our aggressiveness has been good, our alertness has been very good and I thought we did that for most of the night tonight. It’s good to go into the break on a win streak and playing well.”
The Trail Blazers are now 27-27 overall and 16-11 at the Moda Center this season. With the win, Portland is .500 for the first time since the team was 4-4 on November 9, 2015, have won eight of their last 10 games at home and 12 of their last 15 games overall, regardless of venue. Thanks to that streak, the Trail Blazers enter the All-Star break in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings while the Rockets, a team that started the game in seventh place, drop to ninth.
“We dug ourselves a hole to start the season, giving up some games late, but we stuck with it, we kept going, we kept working,” said Damian Lillard. “We didn’t get too high or low. We were able to close in and get to .500 going into the break. Our team has done a great job of sticking to the grind, working every day in practice and staying together. That’s gotten us to where we are now.”
After ending the first quarter tied 29-29, the Trail Blazers used a 18-3 run in the second quarter to build a 12-point lead. Portland would expand their lead to 21, only to see the Rockets cut the deficit to five with 9:31 to play in the fourth. But the Trail Blazers would close out the game by outscoring the Rockets 23-15 to come away with the 13-point victory.
Portland won Tuesday’s contest despite shooting worse percentage than the Rockets from the field and the three-point line, but making eight more free throws despite having the same number of attempts and turning 20 Rockets turnovers in to 31 points more than made up for their so-so field goal percentages.
“I like the fact that we’re doing it within the context of our defense rather than gambling and extending our defense,” said Stotts of forcing turnovers. “We’re being aggressive on the ball, we’re alert on the weak side, so I think those two things combined help create those turnovers.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who went 9-of-22 from the field, 4-of-11 from three and 9-of-11 from the free throw line for 31 points to go along with nine assists, three rebounds and three steals in 35 minutes.
Maurice Harkless remained in the starting lineup, despite Noah Vonleh being on the active list for the first time in the last two games, and responded with his best game as a Trail Blazers with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 13 rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes.
“I liked his defense on Harden, he finished around the basket, he got rebounds, he ran the floor well,” said Stotts of Harkless. “He did a little bit of everything in a kind of understated way.”
Meyers Leonard went 6-of-9 from the field for 14 points while grabbing eight rebounds off the bench. Al-Farouq Aminu shot just under 50 percent to finish with 11 points and five rebounds and Ed Davis grabbed 13 rebounds in 21 minutes. Gerald Henderson went just 3-of-10 from the field but made up for it by going 7-of-10 from the line to finish with 13 points.
The Rockets were led by James Harden, who finished with 34 points, and Dwight Howard, who added 28 points and 13 rebounds in 35 minutes.
Next up, the Trail Blazers have more than a week off before hosting the Golden State Warriors on February 19.
“We’re playing well and hopefully when we get back we pick up where we left off,” said Stotts, “but everybody could use a break.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm.