It’s a dark day in the Rose City.
As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, the home of the Portland Trail Blazers will no longer be called the Rose Garden. In an attempt to bring in more funding, the president of the Blazers announced last week that their home, deemed the Rose Garden in 1995 when the arena opened, has been renamed the Moda Center. The name change comes as a result of a corporate sponsorship with Moda Health (formally ODS), the local insurance company headquartered in Portland.
As you can imagine, this hasn’t set well with Portlanders. Not only have there been social media rants and petitions swirling around the internet, but from a PR perspective, I don’t think it was a great tactic in keeping the community’s support.
An identity transformation
A year ago, the Trail Blazers began their identity transformation with a new president, new general manager and a new point guard. So why not throw in a new name for the arena? This 10-year partnership with provide the Blazers with $40 million, which is apparently significantly larger than multiple naming-rights deals in some mid-sized NBA markets. And after watching a successful sponsorship/name change with PGE Park to Jeld-Wen Field, I can understand why the Blazers thought this could be seamless.
Is money the answer?
But it wasn’t for the Blazers, and it won’t be for a while. So, I have to ask – once the dust settles, will the Moda Center’s money be the right answer for the Blazers? And not just for the Blazers, but for Moda Health and the Rose City? A decade ago, I think the Blazers could have made the change with limited backlash. But in today’s era of social media with instant, overly-vocalized opinions, I think the repercussions may be too large. While it is evident the Blazers need a corporate sponsor, it may not have been necessary to have a complete renaming. This move may go down in Portland’s history as one of those bad decisions we never let them forget.