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Oden starts the money ball rolling

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

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PORTLAND — While Greg Oden’s arrival has been a business-model boost for the Portland Trail Blazers, the Blazers have realized that a franchise overhaul doesn’t happen overnight. The Blazers had been snubbed by all but their most die-hard fans, but after scoring the NBA’s 2007 first draft pick on May 22, there was a “turbo boost of excitement,” prompting the purchase of 500 tickets in just that night, according to Mike Golub, executive vice president of business operations. Business was booming again.

After several seasons that drained its pocketbook, Blazer fervor peaked in the weeks before the draft pick between Oden and now Seattle Supersonics forward Kevin Durant. “We had some fun with the debate,” says Golub. The enthusiasm of fans when they welcomed Oden to Portland at a downtown rally was reflected in ticket sales, with 3,500 season tickets sold so far, ranging from $440 to $5,000 each.

The initial spike in sales gave the franchise a quick boost, but the Blazers are far from rolling in the profits they saw during their heyday, when they sold 15,000 of the 19,000 seats. Sponsorship sales have also picked up and Golub says they’re poised to add a couple dozen new sponsors to their current 70-plus roster.

— Eunice Lee


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