Moda Center

Paul Allen to blame for Blazer woes? That's just silly

Paul Allen to blame for Blazer woes? That's just silly

I'm not really sure where it's coming from, but lately I've been hearing a lot of blame for the Trail Blazers' early season struggles directed at the team's owner, Paul Allen.

I mean, seriously?

Let me ask you this: Without Allen as the owner, where would the Trail Blazers be right now? I'll answer that one for you -- in Seattle, that's where. Or Las Vegas. Or Vancouver, B.C. Because without Allen funding the construction of the Moda Center, this team would not have a new arena and would have moved out of town years ago as Memorial Coliseum decayed.

I've lived here all my life and I can tell you, there is no way this city would have ever paid for a new arena. There would have been no political will and no ballot measure. And if it ever got on the ballot, it would have failed. Miserably.

But Allen, unlike just about every other owner in pro sports, didn't come begging to the city for a new venue -- he built it himself. To the everlasting benefit of this city. Even if you have no interest whatsoever in basketball, you've probably enjoyed an experience of some sort in that arena. And the reality is, the Rose Quarter and its arena don't belong to Allen, they belong to the citizens of Portland.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” premium-game Blazers streaming package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest – $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

And you want to talk basketball? This city is very fortunate to have an owner who cares about his team. Cares enough to provide payrolls that have ranked the Trail Blazers very often among the top five in the NBA. This is a small market, folks. The TV and radio rights fees don't provide the kind of coin owners earn in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and many other larger markets.

Allen wants to win more than he wants to make money off his team. Think about that for a moment. How many other owners would even attempt to say that? Allen has proved it year after year and I would guess he's had very few seasons where this franchise has actually turned a profit. Allen wants a ring and is willing to pay for it.

But it's hard. I believe it's much more difficult to win a championship in the NBA than any other pro league. Championships are won by the same teams year after year -- even before this modern era of "superteams."

Yes, Allen is interested in the Trail Blazers. Interested enough that he wants in on decisions regarding drafts, trades and roster. For what he's spent on this franchise, is that not his right? Does he "meddle?" I have no idea. I do know that some of his general managers could have used a little more meddling. Has he made some wrong choices with GMs and coaches? I suppose. But who hasn't?

Allen does not live in Portland but you could make a case with all he and his franchise have done for this city, on the court and in the community, he's one of its most benevolent citizens.

And any assertion that he's been a negative influence on his franchise is just plain silly.

It's a college basketball feast -- but does Portland care?

It's a college basketball feast -- but does Portland care?

Everybody knows tomorrow is Thanksgiving. But it's also the first day of an interesting sports experiment in Portland.

The Phil Knight Invitational -- PK80 -- opens Thursday, running similtaneously in Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum. It's being billed as the greatest in-season college basketball tournament ever and it very well may be. You're talking about the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State, Texas, Florida, Gonzaga and Oregon -- to name just a few. It's the cream of the crop in college basketball gathered together inside two arenas for a holiday feast of hoops talent. I'm guessing a who's who of NBA general managers, scouts and personnel directors will be on hand.

But one question remains on the eve of the tournament:

Does Portland care?

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Serious question. A lot has changed since the days when the Far West Classic packed Memorial Coliseum with an eight-team Christmas tournament. College basketball just isn't the attraction it once was. And I'm not necessarily pessimistic about how this tournament will draw in Portland, I'm more curious than anything else. I just don't have any idea how this will be received.

A quick check of the secondary market today showed tickets for some sessions available for as low as $6, even though advertising for this event has been heavy. But that doesn't mean a lot. The actual crowd count at the games is what's going to tell the tale.

Is Portland now strictly an NBA town? Will fans want to watch games in the clunky old "Glass Palace" when they can go next door to Moda and watch in more comfort? Are people still interested in watching the college game, especially some of the very best college teams? Or would they rather save their money and watch the Trail Blazers play? Didn't Oregon's Final Four trip last season spark renewed interest in the sport?  If so, how much?

I don't know, quite honestly. But we will find out this weekend.


Buying Blazer tickets on secondary market? Be careful!

Buying Blazer tickets on secondary market? Be careful!

This news release from the Trail Blazers today:

Safest Ticket Purchase Options are,
PORTLAND, Ore. (March 17, 2017) – Officials with the Portland Trail Blazers, Rose Quarter, Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum are again sounding the alarm for all event guests – sellers of counterfeit tickets are after your money. With several regular season home games still left for the Trail Blazers and more headlining events coming this spring and summer, reports are surfacing of guests still being victimized by fake tickets and fraudulent transactions. It’s becoming an all-too-frequent scenario that officials say is avoidable.
“The best way to ensure you are purchasing a valid ticket is to purchase directly from us,” said Dewayne Hankins, Chief Marketing Officer for the Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter. “We have seen a recent increase in fraudulent tickets from purchases outside of our ecosystem and unfortunately it creates a bad experience for our fans and customers when the tickets cannot be honored. If you see a good deal on the Internet for a Trail Blazers game or concert at one of our venues, it’s likely too good to be true. We continue to try to combat these counterfeiters but as we get more sophisticated in our approach, they do as well.”
Hankins strongly urges purchasers to use either the, or websites for their online purchases. Transactions through those sites are the only way to guarantee venue access and seating. Guests also have the option of on-site purchases of tickets at the Rose Quarter Box Office (M-F, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.), or by calling 800.745.3000.
Hankins added that guests discovering their tickets are counterfeit should seek restitution from the entity where tickets were purchased; and consider alerting law enforcement. They should also be prepared to miss the event for which the counterfeit tickets were purchased.

No. 22 Ducks start Brooks, win 83-63 over UNLV at Moda Center

No. 22 Ducks start Brooks, win 83-63 over UNLV at Moda Center

Oregon 83 vs. UNLV 63 

How Oregon won: No. 22 Oregon (10-2) jumped out to a 17-9 lead on UNLV (6-5) midway through the first half, led just 37-33 at halftime and then opened up a big lead in the second half to cruise to a sound victory. 

UO junior forward Dillon Brooks (foot injury) returned to the starting lineup for the first time this season and scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He also added four assists, four rebounds and three steals. Brooks, who entered the night averaging 12.3 points in 19.3 minutes off the bench per game, struggled in the first half making just one of five shot attempts.  

Oregon freshman guard Payton Pritchard returned to the Portland area where he starred at West Linn High School to score six points with three assists. 

The Ducks controlled the game from the start, shooting 44.8 percent in the first half while holding UNLV to 29 percent shooting, thanks in large part to six blocked shots before halftime. 

What it means: Oregon, with Brooks back in the starting lineup, can now begin to search for its identity while running the offense through its best player, who appears to have rediscoverd his mojo. 

Key sequence: Oregon opened the second half with a 10-0 run that involved a three-pointer from Brooks, two layups from junior forward Jordan Bell, a three from Pritchard and five UNLV turnovers. The Runnin' Rebels committed just four turnovers in the entire first half. The Ducks' outburst gave them a commanding 47-33 lead and UO never looked back. 

High-flying Ducks: Bell had 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Dorsey added 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting. 

Fowl play: Senior guard Dylan Ennis struggled shooting the ball, scoring eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. But he did have five assists and six rebounds. 

Wounded Duck: Senior forward Chris Boucher sat out game with an undisclosed injury that required him to entered the arena on crutches and spend the game sitting on the bench while wearing a walking boot. 

Up next: Oregon hosts Fresno State (7-3) on Tuesday before starting Pac-12 play Dec. 28 at home against No. 2 UCLA (12-0). 


Noisy Moda Center welcomes UFC back to Portland

Noisy Moda Center welcomes UFC back to Portland

It was loud. It was edgy. It was controversial. And that's about what to expect when the UFC brings its octagon to town.

A crowd of 6,240 contributed to a gate of $501.035 and the people seemed to enjoy the evening.

In the main event, John Lineker's relentless attack kept him after John Dodson, who stayed unmarked through five rounds with a pretty stick-and-move defense, to win in a hard-earned split decision over Dodson in a batttle of bantamweights. If you looked at the men's face afterward you would have sworn the result would turn out the other way.

[WATCH: UFC's Dodson: I look handsome, he looks like Frankenstein]

[WATCH: UFC's Lineker - Fights aren't judged by damage to the face]

In the semi-main, Alex Oliveira scored a major upset by stopping Will Brooks. And after the win, Oliveria, who had angered Wilson by missing weight Friday, raised the temperature in the building by flashing a crotch shot at Brooks and then another rather questionable gesture. The crowd rained boos on Oliveira, who donned his cowboy hat and celebrated with fans and friends outside the ring. Brooks, who flung his mouthpiece at Oliveira, appeared to suffer some sort of absominal injury.

“It means a lot to me to get that win after everything that happened yesterday," Oliveira said. "I was very upset because I have never missed weight before and he talked a lot of s---, so the best thing that I have in my life is that I won tonight. Next, I will do whatever the UFC wants. If the fight is in Brazil, it will be at lightweight. The travel is what messed my weight up this week.”

[RELATED: Fight by fight recaps]

Louis Smolka was also upset in a flyweight bout, being submitted by Brandon Moreno.

"In the fight, I felt stronger than Smolka," Moreno said. "I traded punches with him and Smolka wasn’t as strong as I thought he was going to be. Right now I feel strong, I feel great, I want to go eat pizza right now. After my fight on The Ultimate Fighter, I don’t know, I feel like a different fighter now. Be careful flyweight division, because Brandon Moreno is here. I want to fight with Demetrious (Johnson), but I don’t think I will get that fight, so I don’t know what is next.”

The crowd was heavily into cheering for veteran Nate Marquardt, who scored a knockout win over Tamdan McCrory in a middleweight matchup. Marquardt, 37, was fighting for the 56th time as a pro.

"It was very important for me to get the win in this fight," Marquardt said. "I lost my last fight and I knew where I was at technically and that I was still going up with my skillset. My last fight, I wouldn’t say it planted a seed of doubt, but I knew I was better than that and it made me wonder. I’m very happy, this was an important fight for me.”



Las Vegas gets an NHL team, but we have a "national treasure"

Las Vegas gets an NHL team, but we have a "national treasure"

There's a bit of irony here. While I'm carrying on a social media war about aging Memorial Coliseum being declared a "national treasure," Las Vegas has secured an expansion franchise in the National Hockey League.

This is all so typically Portland. A lot of good people -- and our City Council -- have gotten all fired up about saving an aging structure that is past its prime and not comfortable for spectators, as anyone who has attended an event there can attest. There is basically no political movement, meanwhile, to get involved in attempting to land an NHL team -- the one big-league sport that would not require any further stadium or arena construction because the Moda Center is NHL ready.

Not that Portland isn't long overdue for building a sports venue. The coliseum was opened in 1961 and cost the city just $8 million. As far as I can tell, that's all this city has ever spent on building any sort of sports venue. Sure, it has thrown a lot of money away trying to spruce up what started out as Multnomah Stadium over the years. And public money is going to continue to be dumped into the sinkhole that is the coliseum.

Portland has gotten real good at chasing good money after bad. In fact, I cannot believe the zealots who got the coliseum declared a "historic building" haven't been trying to do the same thing with the old stadium downtown. It's more than a half-century older than the coliseum and has much more charm. And when full, it seems a pretty cool place -- unless you've experienced the comfort of a modern venue.

This city may be the only one in America that has not decided it is beneficial to build public sports venues. But I'm sure many are proud of that, continuing Portland's tradition of seemingly believing that everyone else does things the wrong way and we're the only ones taking the right path.

Anyone who thinks Memorial Coliseum can be renovated ought to visit Providence Park's concourses or stand in line at its rest rooms on a crowded night. You can make all the cosmetic changes you want to these old barns, but you can't do much about the infrastructure, which just can't handle much more of a load.

But a new arena? If Paul Allen hadn't built the Rose Garden, the Trail Blazers would be playing in Seattle right now. Portland would never have been convinced to build the Rose Quarter.  Getting political support for a baseball or football stadium has been impossible. When I was writing a sports column at The Oregonian, it was a crusade of mine -- but I failed, even though there was a significant push for baseball for a short while.

I'm not going to sit here and try to tell you about economic benefits to the city. That argument is worn out. What I'm saying is that getting a big-league franchise in any sport -- and yes,  I mean a BIG LEAGUE, big-four sport -- is expensive for a community. Right or wrong, the rules seem to be that you must build the venue for the wealthy owner to use.

But what's missed is that the venue becomes part of the community. The Moda Center is Portland's real treasure -- it belongs much more to Portland than to Allen. It's the center of this city's culture and nightlife. And it would have been a worthwhile "quality-of-life" civic investment had Allen not put up the money to build it. (And seriously, he can't hitch a big tow truck to it and haul it back to Seattle.)

There is value in the bonding that pro sports brings to a community. Portland is at its best when the Trail Blazer are making a legitimate playoff run. And at the rate this metropolitan area is growing, another franchise -- in hockey, baseball or football -- would prosper and become a big part of the city's culture.

Not that I expect that to happen. I've lived here all my life. It's a city that seems to treasure its checkered past more than its promising future.