cASE STUDY: NAMING RIGHTS

MODA CENTER

When the NBA Portland Trail Blazers’ newly appointed president and CEO, Chris McGowan, first arrived in November 2012, he placed a priority on streamlining business efforts, improving corporate culture, enhancing the fan experience, securing bigger and better special events, and finding a naming rights partner for the Rose Garden before the 2013-14 NBA season.

Since opening in 1995, the Rose Garden had served as Portland’s primary indoor sports venue, home to both the Trail Blazers and the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. The arena also hosts hundreds of other special events year-round, including U.S Figure Skating Championships, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, WWE and concerts featuring a wide range of world-famous artists including Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. With a strong commitment to community and sustainability, the Rose Garden was the only existing professional sports arena in the world to achieve LEED Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Existing Buildings standard, making the team a global leader in green building design and one of the founding members of the Green Sports Alliance.

McGowan and the Trail Blazers hoped to not only maintain the legacy of the Rose Garden, but planned to reinvest in the company and the team at levels that impact every aspect of the fan experience, including the facilities, amenities, events and even the product on the court – an ambitious plan that required a naming rights partner for funding support.

To secure the naming rights partner, McGowan hired Premier Partnerships as an extension of his own sales staff to find the right brand for one of the few NBA buildings that lacked an entitlement partner. The new Rose Garden naming rights partner needed to embrace McGowan’s new vision while respecting Oregonians’ resistance to changing the name of this storied venue.

STRATEGIC APPROACH

Over the ensuing months, Premier left no stone unturned in the search for the right partner, reaching out to industry leaders in both traditional and non-traditional categories including electronics, financial services, technology and renewable energy firms. Premier and the Trail Blazers engaged in presentations to and received proposals from numerous companies around the world, with numerous calls, meetings, and on-site entertainment experiences with key decision makers spotlighting innovative sponsorship opportunities customized to specific prospects’ business objectives.

    RESULTS

    • The Moda Center was announced on August 13, 2013, just eight months after Premier came on board
    • The ten-year, multi-million dollar partnership demonstrated Moda’s commitment to the Portland community, which they invited to join them in creating a neighborhood that celebrates healthy urban living in the city in which they live, work and play
    • The partnership provided the Trail Blazers with the means to connect the community to the venue through a range of initiatives including redesign and restoration of the landmark “water and fire fountains” outside the arena; new food and beverage options for the Commons area and arena concessions; enhanced wayfaring signage and accessibility throughout the Rose Quarter; Improvements to pedestrian traffic flow into the campus, including guests arriving from nearby commuter rail stations and bus stops; upgraded landscaping and grounds of the Rose Quarter; and seasonal community-building and entertainment programming on the Commons
    A difference-maker this time was hiring Premier Partnerships. When you do that, you bring in a lot of knowledge. They’ve been very good at guiding us through the process. They were integral in getting this deal done this time around.
    — CHRIS MCGOWAN, President & CEO Portland Trail Blazers