Trail Blazers

Blazers President Chris McGowan says plans are being made for a Moda Center renovation

Trail Blazers

Imagine a new oversized jumbotron in the Moda Center.

That would be pretty nice.

While traveling to other updated or new arenas, the brand new video boards are definitely the focal point, and the size is almost overwhelming, but it’s also a beautiful thing for fans especially those in the last rows of the 300 level.

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It was in the fall of 1995 when the Moda Center opened as the Rose Garden, which remains the home of Rip City basketball serving as the arena for the Portland Trail Blazers and the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

The arena has the capacity of nearly 20,000 fans. It has also held several events and concerts along with elite basketball over the years. The Trail Blazers lease with the city of Portland for the Moda Center runs through 2025.  

But when will the arena be modernized? 

 

Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan and the Trail Blazers have plans for a renovation for one of the oldest arenas still in use. 

McGowan joined Rip City Mornings Wednesday to discuss the future plans of the home for the Blazers.

But first, the Blazers President discussed how the arena has served the organization and city so well for so many years.

“We love our arena,” McGowan stated. “We think it has a great vibe. It’s loud and a great environment for basketball and we feel it’s served us really, really well. We love the location as well.”

It’ll be due for -- call it -- a major renovation at some point and that’s kind of the trend that’s going on now if you look around the industry in the NHL and the NBA.

Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan

Updating arenas versus building brand new ones has been a trend league-wide lately as McGowan pointed out.

“It used to be -- find another plot of land and build a new arena,” McGowan added. “There’s a bunch of those that happened and now it’s take your existing arena and modernize it with a major renovation and we believe that could be done at Moda to just improve it, modernize it, get it more up to speed with what’s going on in the NBA.”   

The Moda Center is now the eighth oldest arena in the league now that the Golden State Warriors opened Chase Center last season and moved from Oakland's Oracle Arena. 

The Warriors’ move to San Francisco also marked the end of NBA play in what had been the league’s oldest venue.

Here are the 15 oldest arenas in the league:

  1. Madison Square Garden (1968)— New York Knicks
  2. Target Center (1990)— Minnesota Timberwolves
  3. Vivint Smart Home Arena (1991)— Utah Jazz
  4. Talking Stick Resort Arena (1992)— Phoenix Suns
  5. Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (1994)— Cleveland Cavaliers
  6. United Center (1994)— Chicago Bulls
  7. TD Garden (1995)— Boston Celtics
  8. Moda Center (1995)— Portland Trail Blazers
  9. Wells Fargo Center (1996)— Philadelphia 76ers
  10. Capital One Arena (1997)— Washington Wizards
  11. American Airlines Arena (1999)— Miami Heat
  12. Bankers Life Fieldhouse (1999)— Indiana Pacers
  13. Scotiabank Arena (1999)— Toronto Raptors
  14. Smoothie King Center (1999)— New Orleans Pelicans
  15. Staples Center (1999)— Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers

McGowan says the organization knows that a renovation for Moda Center is a must, eventually. 

“Certainly at some point when an arena gets as old as ours you definitely have to start planning for more than just the old upkeep, and projects here and there. Although we’ve done a really good job of keeping the arena up and I think it’s aged well. It doesn’t really feel as old as it is, but certainly, it’s getting to that point where a major renovation will be in order at some point.”

 

McGowan wouldn’t give an official timeline on any arena updates, but mentioned that a renovation may happen in the next five years or so.

The Moda Center was also the first arena in the league to earn LEED O+M (v4.1) Platinum Certification in 2019.

But with any renovations made to the arena, McGowan doesn’t want to take away from the original feel of the Moda Center/Rose Garden.

Whatever we do, we don’t want to change the environment too much, particularly in the bowl. We have a really great environment and homecourt advantage that we can’t lose. And any major renovation that we do will be done with that in mind.

Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan

The Moda Center is currently owned by Vulcan Inc., a holding company owned by the estate of Paul Allen.

Construction on the Moda Center began in 1993, while the arena opened its doors on October 12, 1995. The arena cost $262 million to build and was financed by many sources, including the City of Portland and late owner Paul Allen.

McGowan is looking to extend the life of the Moda Center for “10 to 20 more years. It could be a little bit longer.”

He also mentioned that when planning the renovations it would most likely include behind-the-scenes updates of the arena as well as LED lights and updating the arena’s video board, which many teams have done recently. McGowan also added that they would probably update seats in the bowl, clubs, and food and beverages experiences. The plan would also include an update to the outside of the arena throughout the Rose Quarter.