President & CEO
A championship pedigree and skills honed at one of the world’s largest sports and entertainment companies are hallmarks of Chris McGowan. Named Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter President & Chief Executive Officer in October 2012, McGowan moved to the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles-based AEG, where he spent 16 years, including a final assignment as Chief Operating Officer – AEG Sports, before becoming one of the NBA’s youngest CEOs.
McGowan, 43, oversees all of the day-to-day operations of the Trail Blazers & Rose Quarter business including arena operations, ticket sales and service, corporate partnerships, premium seating, analytics, brand strategy and digital, corporate communications, broadcasting, social responsibility, digital, finance, and people and culture.
In 2013, McGowan led a strategic business restructuring to self-operate the Moda Center, Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Rose Quarter campus. Through a significant partnership with Live Nation and revamped event ticketing systems under new partner Ticketmaster, McGowan has driven growth and a variety of events to the Rose Quarter, including Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Garth Brooks, Madonna, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Kevin Hart and the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament.
In August 2013, McGowan and his team negotiated a 10-year community partnership with Moda that included naming rights to the Moda Center. Together, Moda and the Trail Blazers have energized Portland’s hub for sports and entertainment, creating an urban showcase for healthy, active living.
McGowan has been at the forefront of several major capital improvement projects to the Rose Quarter campus and Trail Blazers Practice Facility, including $16 million in capital improvements in 2014 – the largest and most sweeping changes to the venue since its original opening in 1995. This included the refurbishment of 1,800 seats in the Kuni Lexus Club Level, complete renovation of 31 of the arena’s private suites and the construction of 24 theatre-style premium boxes called Studio Suites. A glass-enclosed bar on the 300-level named “The Pines” features panoramic views of downtown Portland.
Fan-based upgrades to liven up the Rose Quarter have also been a focal point during McGowan’s four years in Portland. Named after the winningest coach in franchise history, Dr. Jack's is the perfect spot to grab a bite or enjoy a cocktail before and after Rose Quarter events. McGowan also restored the popular Essential Forces water feature at the south entrance to the Moda Center, and landscaping projects have brightened up the Rose Quarter campus.
McGowan has taken advantage of Portland’s thriving and unique food culture by bringing some of the city’s most popular restaurants to the Moda Center, including Bunk Sandwiches, Killer Burger, Salt & Straw, Sizzle Pie and Stumptown Coffee, establishing the arena as a destination for local fare. In 2013, McGowan led the transition to Levy Restaurants as the Rose Quarter’s new food and beverage partner, which has provided an award-winning food and beverage vision, along with premium hospitality and service.
Since joining the organization in 2012, the Trail Blazers & Rose Quarter have seen dramatic increases in all key revenue areas including ticket sales, sponsorship, retail, arena, and food and beverage.
McGowan has created two annual events during the Trail Blazers offseason to bring the team to fans across Oregon and Southwest Washington. In four years of the Rip City Relay, the organization has engaged 25 communities throughout the region in an effort to showcase the Trail Blazers as “Oregon’s team.” McGowan also brought back the popular 3-on-3 basketball tournament to the Rose Quarter – an annual event called Rip City 3-on-3 that is one of the state’s premier outdoor basketball tournaments, which raises money for Special Olympics Oregon and attracts thousands of attendees from across the region.
Under McGowan’s leadership, the organization’s charitable giving has increased every year. During the 2015-16 season, the team’s corporate and foundation giving totaled more than $850,000, an increase of 155% since McGowan joined the organization.
In his previous role as COO of AEG Sports, McGowan oversaw the business operations of the NHL’s 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy, while also assisting with operations for all of AEG’s sports teams worldwide. He also played an important role on the team that opened one of the country’s most successful arenas in 1999-2000 – Staples Center.
The Sports Business Journal recognized McGowan’s accomplishments at AEG Sports by naming him to their exclusive “Forty Under 40” list in March 2012. In 2014, McGowan was honored at the Father of the Year Awards benefitting the American Diabetes Association. Locally, McGowan is active in the Portland community and currently serves as a board member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland Metro; Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation; Oregon Sports Authority; the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board and the Positive Coaching Alliance.
McGowan earned his bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Delaware in 1996, where he was captain of the soccer team. Chris, his wife Susan, and their two sons, Ryan (14) and Kyle (12), reside in Southwest Portland.