View Full Version : Even a billionaire gots limits.....

02-25-2006, 09:45 PM
February 25, 2006
Portland Owner Says Team Bleeding Money

Filed at 4:11 p.m. ET
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- As if mounting losses and declining attendance weren't enough for the Portland Trail Blazers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/portlandtrailblazers/index.html?inline=nyt-org), billionaire owner Paul Allen (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/paul_allen/index.html?inline=nyt-per) says the team is bleeding money.

His estimate of $100 million in losses over the next three years comes just as the Blazers appeared to be reconnecting with fans disenchanted by player arrests and legal troubles.

The suggestion is that Allen wants help in keeping the team afloat. Otherwise, the future of the Blazers in Portland is in jeopardy. Team executives already have met with Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Portland Mayor Tom Potter to discuss options.

''No time is a perfect time,'' said Steve Crosby, a spokesman for Allen's Vulcan Inc., about the timing of going public with the team's fiscal woes. ''We wanted to be transparent with the fans that the financial model is broken.''

The Blazers receive no revenue for suites, clubs, courtside seats, game concessions or parking at the Rose Garden. The building was once owned by Allen before the company that ran it -- Oregon Arena Corp. -- declared bankruptcy and he was forced to sell.

Lance Conn, who runs Allen's privately held investment firm, Vulcan Capital, said Thursday that without some kind of public-private partnership, ''no business person can sustain losses of that kind.''

The day before Conn's assessment, the Blazers lost at home to the NBA's worst team, the Charlotte Bobcats (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/charlottebobcats/index.html?inline=nyt-org). The announced crowd was 12,585, but appeared half of that, well below capacity of about 20,000.

Afterward, Ruben Patterson, the popular yet sometimes difficult forward, pleaded again to be traded. ''I just want to be happy,'' he said. ''I'm tired of losing, man.''

He got his wish at the trade deadline the next day when he was sent to the Denver Nuggets (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/denvernuggets/index.html?inline=nyt-org) in a four-team, nine-player deal involving bench players.

As part of the deal, the Blazers acquired guard Voshon Lenard from Denver and forward-center Brian Skinner from Sacramento. Portland lost Patterson, guard Charles Smith and forward Sergei Monia.

The new players should be available Sunday against the Hornets (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/neworleanshornets/index.html?inline=nyt-org), and they couldn't show up soon enough. Portland is shorthanded with Sebastian Telfair serving a two-game NBA suspension. A loaded gun was found among his things while the team plane was parked at Boston's Logan Airport. Telfair said he grabbed his girlfriend's bag as he headed out the door in Portland.

Centers Joel Przybilla and Theo Ratliff, meanwhile, are inactive with injuries. The Blazers have been forced to start Ha Seung Jin, who is in his second year and his inexperience is evident. Przybilla has right knee tendinitis and Ratliff has a sprained left ankle.

Darius Miles, tapped by new coach Nate McMillan to be the team's leader this year, missed 34 games because of cartilage damage in his right knee. Telfair, the starting point guard to open the season, missed 12 games with a sprained ligament in his right thumb and hasn't been the same since.

''We don't have any problems,'' Miles said. ''We have injuries.''

Overall, the Blazers are 18-36 after losing Friday night's game against the Boston Celtics (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/bostonceltics/index.html?inline=nyt-org), 102-96. The game drew a decent crowd, 16,717 fans.

Through 26 home games earlier this week, Portland was averaging 14,496 a game. Only the Atlanta Hawks (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/sports/probasketball/nationalbasketballassociation/atlantahawks/index.html?inline=nyt-org) had a lower average in the 30-team league.

While the team opened the season as the second-youngest in the NBA, there was hope the Blazers had assembled a mix of veterans and youngsters that would mesh. They launched an ad campaign proclaiming: ''Ready or not, here we come!''

McMillan said he and the players can't worry about team's finances. ''You definitely take notice of it, but we have to get ready and play and focus on becoming a better team,'' he said. ''The business side, we can't control that.''

02-25-2006, 09:55 PM
While our billionaire owner is cutting the ticket prices others are threatening to move their teams for money.

Cuban's a great owner... except for that one time when he let the future MVP go for nothing!