A championship pedigree and skills honed at one of the world’s largest sports and entertainment operating companies are hallmarks of Chris McGowan. Named Trail Blazers President & Chief Executive Officer in October 2012, McGowan migrated to the Pacific Northwest from Los Angeles-based AEG Sports, where he spent 16 years, including a final assignment as Chief Operating Officer, before becoming one of the NBA’s youngest CEOs.
McGowan, 41, oversees all of the day-to-day business operations of the Trail Blazers, including ticket sales and service, corporate partnerships, premium seating, analytics, marketing, corporate communications, broadcasting, community relations, digital, finance and human resources. Following a strategic restructuring announced in 2013, McGowan also oversees operation of the Moda Center, the newly-renamed home arena of the Trail Blazers, as well as the nearby Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Rose Quarter campus. That restructuring further led McGowan to secure Levy Restaurants as the Rose Quarter’s new food and beverage partner; and to revamp event ticketing systems under new partner Ticketmaster.
His latest project is managing $16 million in capital improvements to the Rose Quarter campus – the largest and most sweeping changes to the venue since its original opening in 1995. The strategic outcome McGowan desires most is for Portland and the Rose Quarter to become a coveted destination for world-class concerts, shows and special events.
McGowan’s keen decision making has spurred major increases in ticket sales, corporate sponsorship revenue, television ratings and overall growth of the franchise. He works alongside Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey in driving culture and vision for the Trail Blazers.
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. In addition to managing the various business departments and revenue streams for the Kings and Galaxy, McGowan was responsible for developing strategies to grow fan bases and enhance fan experiences. He also played an important role in the Kings being awarded the 2010 NHL Entry Draft that was hosted at STAPLES Center.
Prior to being named COO of AEG Sports in 2007, McGowan had developed an extensive sports and entertainment sales and marketing background by working on a variety of large-scale events. He managed the premium seating sales efforts for all of AEG’s venues in Southern California, including STAPLES Center, Home Depot Center and NOKIA Theater. Under McGowan’s leadership, each of these venues set industry records for premium seating revenue. McGowan also assisted in the opening of STAPLES Center in 1999.
The Sports Business Journal recognized McGowan’s accomplishments at AEG Sports by naming him to their exclusive “Forty Under 40” list in March 2012 – an honor reserved for the nation’s “best and brightest” individuals in the sports industry under the age of 40. 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; and the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board.
A native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, McGowan was a world traveler in his youth, spending a number of his formative years on military bases thanks to his father’s highly-decorated career in the United States Army. He earned his bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Delaware in 1996, where he was captain on the soccer team. Chris, his wife Susan, and their two sons, Ryan (12) and Kyle (10), reside in Southwest Portland.