Chris McGowan

Chief Executive Officer - Vulcan Sports & Entertainment

President/Chief Executive Officer – Portland Trail Blazers

Chris McGowan serves as Chief Executive Officer of Vulcan Sports & Entertainment (VSE), where he oversees business operations of all VSE sports franchises and facilities. Chris also serves as VSE representative for the ownership stake in the Seattle Sounders (MLS).

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). McGowan spent 16 years with AEG, including a final assignment as Chief Operating Officer of AEG Sports, before becoming one of the NBA’s youngest CEOs. Prior to ending his time with AEG Sports, McGowan was a part of a Stanley Cup Championship run for the LA Kings in the National Hockey League; an MLS Cup title for the LA Galaxy and played an important role in opening one of the country’s most iconic sports and entertainment venues – Staples Center.

With the help of McGowan’s leadership and vision, both the Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter organizations have seen record-breaking growth. In 2019, the Rose Quarter hosted its highest number of shows and concerts yet and has seen an increase in shows and concerts hosted year-over-year. During the 2019-20 NBA season, the Trail Blazers set an organizational record for ticket sales revenue.

McGowan ensures all business decisions for Moda Center, Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Quarter campus are made with sustainability in mind. Because of this, Moda Center became the first-ever existing LEED O+M v.4.1 Platinum venue in 2019 – a certification that is important to the organization when making decisions around waste, energy, food, water and transportation.

In 2018, McGowan was named to the additional role of CEO of Vulcan Sports & Entertainment, where his responsibilities expanded further into the professional sports franchises and entertainment properties in the Vulcan portfolio. McGowan manages a cross-functional executive team in both Portland and Seattle in leading these business operations.

In 2017, McGowan 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 Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation, Oregon Sports Authority, Oregon Business Council and Trail Blazers Foundation.

In August 2013, McGowan and his team negotiated a community partnership with Moda Health that included naming rights to 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 piloted major venue and technological improvements to the Rose Quarter campus and Trail Blazers Practice Facility, including $16 million in capital improvements. This includes safety and cleanliness updates to the Rose Quarter and its venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic; refurbishment of 1,800 seats in the Kuni Lexus Club Level; renovation of 44 of the arena’s private suites; construction of 24 theatre-style premium boxes called Studio Suites; opening of an exclusive “speakeasy-style” club called Oro Fino and the creation of a glass-enclosed bar on the arena’s top level named The Pines, featuring panoramic views of Downtown Portland.

Fan-based upgrades to liven up the Rose Quarter have also been a focal point during McGowan’s nine 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 Moda Center, and environmentally friendly landscaping projects have brightened up the Rose Quarter campus.

He has taken advantage of Portland’s thriving food culture by bringing local fare and some of the city’s popular restaurants to Moda Center, including Killer Burger, Salt & Straw, Sizzle Pie, Daddy D’s and Tamale Boy. In 2013, McGowan signed Levy as the Rose Quarter’s food and beverage partner for award-winning culinary vision, hospitality and customer service. An agreement with Levy subsidiary Rank + Rally also oversees the Trail Blazers retail store, Rip City Clothing Co.

McGowan led a business restructuring to self-operate Moda Center, Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Quarter campus in 2013. Through a partnership with Live Nation and event ticketing systems under Ticketmaster, McGowan has driven an unprecedented variety of events to the Rose Quarter, including Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, Elton John, Katy Perry, Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Billy Joel, the 2019 NCAA Women’s Regional Basketball Tournament, the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and PK80 Invitational – a groundbreaking college basketball tournament featuring 16 of the country’s top teams in a double-bracket format honoring Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday in 2017.

Under McGowan’s leadership, the organization’s charitable giving has increased annually thanks to new funding sources, including proceeds from the Trail Blazers specialty license plates for Oregon vehicles and new Racial Injustice Fund of the Trail Blazers Foundation. During the 2019-20 season, the team’s cash grants and donations exceeded $1.1 million benefitting schools and nonprofits in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

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 (19) and Kyle (17), reside in Southwest Portland.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter