Chris McGowan

President & CEO

Portland Trail Blazers & Rose Quarter

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 Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), where he spent 16 years, including a final assignment as Chief Operating Officer of AEG Sports, before becoming one of the NBA’s youngest CEOs. 

McGowan, 44, oversees all of the day-to-day operations of the Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter including arena operations, ticket sales and service, corporate partnerships, premium seating, analytics, marketing, corporate communications, broadcasting, social responsibility, digital, finance and human resources.  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’s role recently expanded to include being named President, Vulcan Arts + Entertainment (VA+E), a newly-formed entity under Vulcan, Inc., parent company of the Trail Blazers. In that role, McGowan leads the strategic business direction of the entire VA+E portfolio, which includes Upstream Music Fest + Summit, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop), Seattle Art Fair, Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum, Living Computers Museum + Labs, New Orleans Food + Funk Festival and The Hospital Club. 

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, Taylor Swift, Madonna, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Kevin Hart, Bruno Mars and the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament. 

In August 2013, McGowan and his team negotiated a community partnership with Moda Health 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.

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.

He 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. 

McGowan has created two annual events during the Trail Blazers offseason to bring the team to fans across Oregon and Southwest Washington. In five years of the Rip City Relay, the organization has engaged 30 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 events, 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 thanks to new funding sources, including proceeds from the new Trail Blazers specialty license plates. During the 2016-17 season, the team’s cash grants and donations approached $1 million, which has nearly quadrupled 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; and in 2017 was honored as one of the Business Executives of the Year by the Portland Business Journal. 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. He also serves as Vice President of the h.Club Los Angeles Foundation board of directors.

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.