Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday, Monday......

Fun week ahead-March Madness is here, the NFL free agency period is in full swing, and maybe we are one day closer to Paul Allen becoming the former owner of the Blazers. More on the latest Blazer/Vulcan PR mess below.
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March Madness and the Day the East Coast Bias Died!
Once again, there is no perfect system in college athletics. Anti-BCS fans always point to the NCAA Basketball Tourney and say that is the way to do it. Well, ask Cincinnati, Maryland, Florida State, Missouri State and Maryland among others how well the system works. Personally, as a West Coast guy, the fact the major division 1-A conferences (i.e. I don't count the 1-AA types such as the Big Sky, WCC, and Big West) West of the Mississippi got multiple bids was a great day. Did Air Force deserve to get in over Maryland? Gary Williams thinks not, but the committee did so the Falcons are in. Two years ago Utah State was ranked 25th in the AP Top 25 but got upset in it's conference tourney and was not invited. This year, they lose to Nevada in the WAC title game, and still get in. Good for the Aggies. Tough SH&% Cincy! At some point, even though the Big East is the greatest conference ever known to man, you can't take the bottom feeders from that conference. Win more games and you get in. Cincy lost in the first round of the Big East tourney. Stop Syracuse from starting it's roll and you are in. Instead, the NIT is calling. Enjoy. If Utah State missed out from the WAC, or Arizona or Cal from the Pac-10 didn't get in, would the East-Coast based media be calling out the committee? Probably not.

A Conversation???? Who did PA speak to and what was this all about?
I have been trying to wrap my arms the "Conversation with Paul Allen" from Friday night since, well Friday night. In case you missed it, and many did since he put out a statement or as Vulcan called it "A Conversation with Paul Allen," on FRIDAY NIGHT via, in effect, the Blazers owner called out the noteholders and ownership group, many of them by company name, and in effect was groveling to the public to side with him in his battle to get a better lease. How did it work? Not well.
Once again, the Deathstar known as Vulcan was involved in a PR blunder. If you really wanted to get your message out, then do it via a news conference, with cameras and tape recorders rolling. State your case to the people who have supported the team in the past, present and who will continue to do so in the future. But instead of doing that, Paul Allen and Vulcan hid behind the keyboard and computer screen. Nameless, faceless, and once again lacking in accountability. The noteholders of the Rose Garden have been taken to court and spent far too much money to work with Vulcan and Allen to create a new lease agreement. The city of Portland, as much as I would like to blame them, can’t take responsibility for this mess. There is now, and really has been only one solution: HE MUST SELL THE TEAM.
Of course this only works if a new owner also has the opportunity to also buy the building or get a better deal in place as the main tenant. It is my understanding that both of the above would be possible, but only for someone not named Paul Allen.
Would it be a good investment? Sure. As one Blazer executive told me last night, "you can’t kill the brand." In other words, despite everything, there was a great crowd last night and at least for two and a half hours, they fell in love with the team again. There was no reason to go unless you were a Phoenix Suns’ fan, and unlike games against the Lakers, Cavs and Heat, the majority of the crowd last night was cheering for the home team. It is a true testament to the quality of the Blazer fans. Everyone says they have "the best fans in the league" but last night proved to me that they are as good as it gets here in Portland.
The franchise has broken the hearts of the fans in this community many times on and off the floor, but never more so than lately with the hidden agendas and veiled threats of bankruptcy, a move or folding the franchise. Despite all of that, this community still loves it’s only major league sports franchise. Paul Allen and his nameless, faceless empty suits at Vulcan have tried to kill that love affair, but it won’t die. Now is the time for Paul Allen to be a real man-step up to the podium, answer the tough questions from the local media here (as opposed to a scripted web site release), take responsibility for a bad lease, and if you can’t make it work, realize that it is time to do the right thing and get out.