Portland a decent market

Discussion in 'Portland LumberJax Forum' started by Vin, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Vin

    Vin Well-Known Member

    Last night, I did a lot of research on lax and the Portland area along with post-mortem work on the Jax and it definitely seems like, had the Great Recession not hit, I believe that team would still be with us.

    So, overall, with the right ownership group, I hope the NLL returns to Portland at some point - hopefully near the same time as a Vancouver team and while we still have a Stealth team near Seattle. A 3-city reivalry there would be very good and remind me of the BUF-ROC-TOR rivalry and probably the east coast rivalries of yore.
  2. BanditsRock11

    BanditsRock11 Well-Known Member

    I would love Portland to come back, I would make every effort to head there for a game at some point as well.
  3. StealthDragon

    StealthDragon New Member

    Thank you Vin.

    They had over 7k a game in PDX, they were just mismanaged. Attendance was never the problem!

    It was basically the opposite of all other teams that have failed or moved.
  4. Vin

    Vin Well-Known Member

    I suspect mismanagement was not all that much of an issue. I believe that the deathblow was the Great Recession and the ownership group did not have deep enough pockets to sustain the loss of major advertisers. Titans and Shamrox were probably in the same boat as was Boston 2.0.

    That clusterf*ck of franchise demise was indicative of the big problem known for a long time - the mom-and-pop owner. Even before the Great Recession, the league has sought big-time owners because they are robust. Those 4 ownership groups were taken anyway probably for the expansion fees needed by the other mom-and-pop owners. Well, now that most mom-and-pop's are gone now, the more robust extant owners don't need the expansion fee, so there's no expansion. This is good. The league has the policy of only admitting robust owners now; that helps maintain stability and enhance marketability.

    The only problem now with POR is getting such an ownership group to go to that market. Unfortunately for Angela & Co., they could not find such a buyer. Nonetheless, I think POR is a fine market if the right folks can be found.

    Having a Pacific Northwest group of WAS, POR and, VAN would be really good.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2013
  5. StealthDragon

    StealthDragon New Member

    After 4 years of drawing large crowds, it shouldn't take deep pockets to survive massive losses, unless you're doing it wrong. The massive losses should be done with and trying to break even should be within shooting distance on year 5. If they had a shot at breaking even I think the paper backing of Angela's father and brother would have continued.

    So I feel strongly, based on the stories I've heard after the closure, they were managing the business side of the team wrong. Specifically around getting sponsors. Yes, getting anyone to spend ad money in '08 and '09 was difficult, but if your business depends on it, you go get sponsors. If you think someone else is going to keep paying the bills for you, you lose the motivation. Angela didn't have the motivation and didn't do the job right with business team.
  6. Vin

    Vin Well-Known Member

    I don't think I buy that because the very definition of "deep pockets" means that you are fiscally robust and can operate at a loss for a good long while. Angela and her father were never in that sort of position - especially after they took their hits in their not-Stealth businesses.

    However, even if their non-Stealth businesses had not taken any hit, they still needed sponsors for the Stealth and those people tooks hits on their own in the Great Recession and one of the first things that goes as part of cutting costs is to cut down on marketing and sponsorships. That happened quite a bit at the onset of the Great Recession.

    Overally, though, like you, I very much believe in the Portland market to support lacrosse.
  7. laxboxgoalie

    laxboxgoalie New Member

    Another thing is if you say Angela didn't have the motivation to get sponsers and that they were mismanaging could they have lost sponsership because the corporate business people did not want to make deal with her because they didn't get along with Angela.

    Because I know part of the reason why the Chilliwack Bruins of the Western Hockey League moved to Victoria was that the corporate people in Chilliwack didn't get along with the owner that ran the team on a day to day basis and once a competitor came in with the Abbotsford Heat 20 mins away they found someone else that was a lot easier to work with. So people will sponser the companies and sporting events with people they like who are managing and running them
  8. Pounder

    Pounder Member

    I'm sorry to kick this dust up after a few months.

    I'm going to have to bring up a baseball example here... and it's in Portland. Through the time after a 2000 stadium renovation, they claimed 5,000 to 6,000 fans per game... and we can also say that the sponsors dried up. Even before the proposal to bring MLS to Portland, the ownership was advertising to fill luxury suites on a game-by-game basis. Part of the issue: the attendance numbers were bunk. Sponsors usually pull out when they sense fans aren't keeping their eyeballs on either the game or even the dashboard (or outfield fence) ads. That wasn't without effort with the Beavers... the PCL handpicked an owner for them (and the then-USL Timbers) after they had to take over the team for a couple years. That owner wanted out after one season and got out after two.

    I believe the announced attendance in the Rose Garden for the Lumberjax was laughable compared to actual folks in seats.

    That's not the only problem, and maybe not the biggest one. Anyone still looking at the Rose Garden has to deal with Vulcan Inc. (We'll often shorten that to "Paul Allen," who owns the Trail Blazers and the arena, but there was a time when he held more personal control of the organization. Now, it seems the accountants run the ship.) Local journalists are dying to bring the NHL into town, and there were supposed rumors for some years that Allen was interested, but it never happened. Now, Vulcan just wants to dominate the concert industry in town and put potential competition out of business. So the possible bigger problem... the Blazers try to keep ALL the sponsors. They won't make it easy to break through their wall. However, they're not completely against another effort done "the right way."

    (Translation: Paul Allen wants his pound of flesh.)

    Meanwhile, the high school lacrosse scene continues to grow. I don't think there's a lack of interest in this town. I do think the Jax made one basic mistake in this market. To illustrate this, I'll bring up the Timbers.

    The Timbers were reborn in USL at the same time the Beavers were revived in Portland. Many potential fans wanted MLS and didn't follow right away. A fan following grew with $10 tickets behind the goal. Of course, to be "authentic" in town (which Portland- the city- values), Timbers Army developed with Euro (and eventually worldwide) style support, that became an attraction in itself, and eventually attendance started growing and the suites were full and baseball became expendable. I mention the Army for another reason... frequent visits with Habitat for Humanity morphed into essentially a full-fledged charitable organization. Eventually, you get an owner who wants to get in front of all that and, voila, MLS. Only then did $10 seats become $20 seats.

    So, if you want back in Portland, I'd say there's a very specific process by which to do it.

    (1) FANS- pick a bar. Go there weekly during whichever season. Watch a game, even if you have to hook up a TV to an online webcast. Also meet up for charitable work and volunteer for state lacrosse tournament, etc.

    (2) OWNER- partner with the Portland Winterhawks. Help them get traction to get renovations for the old Memorial Coliseum back on track. Now with a full-sized rink, further renovations to replace seats (and many other things) are scheduled to cost $30 million, but will probably be more. Fortunately, the Winterhawks won the WHL this year and finished one loss short of the Memorial Cup, so they have some traction (though sanctions against the team by the league were the issue that derailed the renovation plan). A modernized arena will probably be downsized to 7,000-8,000.

    Start small, mix in some cheap seats (it's a city with an influx of young people, after all), work your way up to the point that Vulcan WANTS you in the Rose Garden.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2013
  9. Pounder

    Pounder Member

    I looked back to see that the Lumberjax drew 9,916 to their inaugural game in 2006.

    The Arena Football League's Portland Thunder drew 8,509 last night for their first game. It was televised on CBS Sports, the crowd looked decent on that broadcast, but the pics I see this morning via a TV station are more damning.

    No other league (noting the Winterhawks still split time with Veterans Memorial Coliseum) survived more than 3 seasons in that arena. At least the Jax went 4. Since travel costs are an issue, you better have a lot of cash to give to both Paul Allen and local media if you want a startup to work in there. It seems, instead, that only the misinformed underfunded even try.
  10. Vin

    Vin Well-Known Member

    In June 2005, I spent two weeks in Longview WA at Weyerhaeuser training some steam turbine operators about their new control systems. That trip was something else, I can tell you.

    June 2005 was the summer before the first Lumberjax season. Being an NLL fan, during breaks in training, I communicated about the coming LumberJax to these people. This is what I got back when I was describing lacrosse to one redneck member of the brain trust in attendance: "...bunch of Indians throwing around a rock."
    It's people like that that make me think that the 1980 eruption of nearby Mount Saint Helens needed to be much larger and face southwest and not north. (Ironically, in June 2005, the volcano was in a constant state of eruption since fall 2004.)

    When I got back to my hotel and watched TV (Longview is in the Portland TV market), the Portland news broadcasts seemed to be something really quirky especially with sports. There's no major league sports in Portland after the NBA playoffs, so the only thing they were reporting was minor league baseball, the Mariners, and maybe college baseball or so. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. It reminded me of what some people call Albany: "Smallbany" At least in Albany, they avidly report on the major leagues sports of New York and Boston and Buffalo besides the colleges and minor league teams.

    Portland just seemed odd. I'd love to get to know the place better because, in several ways, I'm sure I'd feel at home there. At the same time, it seemed to me to be a sports desert psychologically. I'd be leery of going there with any other major continent-wide league teams because, while there should be sufficient population to support any such team, I suspect people just don't give a rat's åss.
  11. I would like to see a team back in Portland. From what everyone has stated, the attendance was decent just didn't have enough money.
  12. Tom Wersderfer

    Tom Wersderfer Active Member

    When the recession hit, the Lumberjax lost most of their corporate sponsorship which killed them despite having decent attendance figures.
  13. Wings-4-Life

    Wings-4-Life Well-Known Member

    Agreed. It wasn't a hotbed, but it was probably the best of the failed markets.
  14. AmericanRockFan

    AmericanRockFan Well-Known Member

    I feel like if the NLL ever became a big-time league (let's not hijack this thread now ;) ) that Portland LumberJax gear would be to the NLL what California Golden Seals or Quebec Nordiques gear is to the NHL. People who weren't even fans would wear it cause it's seen as cool now.
  15. I love their logo. Who doesn't like a Lumberjack with a lacrosse stick? haha
  16. Pounder

    Pounder Member

    A couple years ago, I made the comparison of the Lumberjax starting to the Arena Football League's Portland Thunder. I mentioned that no team outside the Blazers or the Winterhawks ever lasted more than three seasons in Moda Center.

    This would be the third season. Probably still will be. But they won't be the Thunder. It's the Portland Steel! (S.M.H.)

    The league took over the team from the owner after the owner yammered about paying increased insurance costs, and hinted that he thought he could negotiate something out of the AFL... under the principle that if the AFL lost the Thunder, the league would fold due to only 7 teams remaining. However, apparently contrary to league policy, the league didn't own the name, logo, or other marks. (S.M.H.)

    The league owning this team means 7 other owners are now responsible for the losses to be incurred by this team in Portland. Save a really drugged-up white knight buying in, this will be the last year of the team. The league? Not out of the question that they go away, too.

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