Jody Allen still hesitant to sell Trail Blazers

Jody Allen
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

For over a year, Phil Knight has been attempting to buy the Portland Trail Blazers from Jody Allen. A year ago, he made his initial offer of more than $2 billion. That offer was quickly rejected. A year later, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and real estate developer Alan Smolinisky are still trying to purchase the Portland Trail Blazers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the pair was willing to raise their bid after the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and NBA’s Phoenix Suns were purchased for $4 billion. Though, Allen and Vice Chair Bert Kolde still will not budge.

So Knight and Smolinisky tried again, according to a person familiar with their plans. On numerous occasions, including earlier this year, they made it clear to Jody Allen that they still wanted to make a deal. They indicated that they realized the price had gone up and that they were willing to pay more than their initial offer, this person said. Again, Knight’s calls to Jody Allen were diverted to Kolde, and nothing came of the brief discussions.

A few months ago, Smolinisky even sent a handwritten letter to Jody Allen seeking common ground and saying he and Knight would love to discuss the Blazers with her, according to a person familiar with the matter. In response, Smolinisky received an email from someone replying on Jody Allen’s behalf with a familiar message: Paul Allen’s sports teams aren’t on the market.

Jody Allen took over as the owner of both the Blazers and Seattle Seahawks after Paul Allen passed away in 2016. The former took over as the executor of her brother’s estate with instructions to sell his assets, including both sports organizations. Though, Vulcan Inc. (the umbrella company set up to manage the Allen family’s businesses) and Jody continue to state that there is no timetable for when that must be done.

Jody stated on July 5, 2022, that the complexity of selling the organizations may take 10-20 years. This means that Allen is in no rush to sell the Blazers or the Seahawks. The former are entering a major turning point in franchise history, whether or not Damian Lillard will stay is to be told. He has stated that he wants to stay in Portland, but that he also wants to play for a contender. The ownership in Portland will play a pivotal role in the direction that the Blazers are headed. Not just with the direction on the court but where they will call home as well.

In October 2025, the original 30-year ground lease expires for the Blazers’ arena, the Moda Center. In other cities, looming lease expirations have spurred negotiations over who would pay for costly renovations. The Moda Center is one of the older NBA arenas that hasn’t undergone a comprehensive overhaul.

[Jason] Hunke, the Vulcan spokesman, said that a renewal of the lease and arena improvements such as the structural and seat upgrades happening this summer and other needed improvements are a “high priority.”

If Knight and Smolinsky can acquire the Blazers from Jody Allen, it would ease any worry about the Trail Blazers franchise relocating. The bid from the duo is set to keep them in Knight’s hometown of Portland.

But Jody Allen continues to put a firm block on the duo’s plans. In the piece, she stated her commitment to the franchise and didn’t sound like somebody ready to give up control any time soon.

“My brother Paul and I talked about the [Blazers and Seahawks] often and I regularly advised him and team leaders on various matters,” she wrote in an email to The Wall Street Journal. “I led development of both Moda Center and Lumen Field, and have attended games for many years.

…As chair, my focus is building championship teams and managing the franchises for the long-term. Today, I work regularly with the GMs, presidents, and coaches on significant sports, business, and organization decisions and have final say on strategic moves such as key hires, trades, and player extensions.”

The full article can be read here. (subscription required)

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