There go the best seats in the house
On media day, I asked Steve Patterson, the president and de facto general manager of the Trail Blazers, just one question.
'So … is the 'broken economic model' that you guys talked about all last season still broken? Or did Paul just decide that he loves the team so much he's now willing to absorb the losses?'
Those questions, of course, were based on owner Paul Allen's sudden reversal of position this summer - from selling the team to not selling the team. Patterson, obviously taken aback by the question, sidestepped a bit, saying that Allen has a right to change his mind and take the team off the market.
Certainly he does. All I'm saying, I guess, is that I'd prefer not to hear any more whimpering about financial losses. Buyers were within a week of touring the Rose Garden. Things were moving toward Allen being able to sell this franchise.
Then he pulled the plug and hasn't said anything publicly ever since. It all seemed sort of bewildering and did nothing but further Allen's image as the world's richest eccentric.
But a new revenue source possibly is headed the team's way. The NBA has made a big change in policy, giving teams the right to move media off the traditional press tables. Not just the print media, either. Even the team's radio and TV crews apparently will move off the floor, in upper-level areas previously used for overflow.
As there always seems to be, there is a complication in Portland, though. The team has to reach an agreement with Portland Arena Management about the new seats. PAM, you may remember, has the rights to sell courtside seats.
These seats are expected to be expensive but relatively easy to sell, since they're next to team benches and will have a table in front of them. You would think sales already would be under way.
But the Blazers and PAM can't seem to come to an agreement on how to share the revenue. No big surprise, of course, because the team usually plays hardball with all its negotiations, and nothing ever seems to come easy.
This will get settled, either through negotiations or arbitration, and you can expect those seats to be occupied by fans instead of media this season.
What will that mean for the rest of Blazer fans?
I'd say this, off the top: It's going to be very hard for broadcasters to do as well calling the action from halfway up the arena bowl as they did from courtside. Their view won't be as good, and fans also will miss a little of the undercurrent of the game that you get from hearing the on-court chatter.
And, as far as the writers are concerned, there will be a small difference, too. If we're going to be up there sharing space with home-team broadcasters from around the league, we're going to have to forget that old bromide about no cheering in the press box.
We're going to be putting up with a lot of it.