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Senator Ron Wyden Restarts the Blazers Sale Campaign
In a letter to Adam Silver and Cathy Engelbert, Wyden advocates for a WNBA expansion team and the Blazers' sale to Phil Knight.
Since news broke in early June of Nike founder Phil Knight's $2 billion offer to buy the Trail Blazers, I've written that in the coming months, there would be a concerted effort by various important people in the state and the league to make a sale happen.
About a month after the news first broke (and a day after Allen issued a statement on behalf of both the Blazers and Seattle Seahawks saying that neither team is for sale), Ron Wyden, Oregon's senior U.S. Senator, gave an interview to Willamette Week expressing his enthusiasm for Knight's potential bid. Yesterday, Wyden made another public statement aimed at keeping the pressure on Allen to sell, as well as to support the possibility of the WNBA expanding to Portland.
In an open letter addressed to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert, Wyden laid out the case for Portland to land a WNBA franchise, and reiterated his support for Knight's bid to buy the Blazers. You can read the entire letter below:
US Sen. @RonWyden writes to NBA commissioner Adam Silver about the WNBA to PDX and Phil Knight’s interest in buying the Trail Blazers:
Sep 22, 2022
512 Likes 72 Retweets 26 Replies
As reported in June by The Athletic, Portland is on a shortlist of six cities under consideration by the WNBA for potential expansion, along with Oakland, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Nashville and Toronto. Kirk Brown, a Vancouver, Washington-based billionaire who co-founded the company DiscoverOrg (now ZoomInfo), is leading the bid to bring a team to Portland, an effort that has received the public support of the Blazers. (Mike Vorkunov, one of the two co-authors of the Athletic story, was my guest on last week's podcast, which included an extended discussion of the possibility of the WNBA coming to Portland.)
As for the possibility of Knight or anyone else buying the Blazers, the team has publicly said it is not for sale currently, while acknowledging that the terms of the Paul G. Allen Trust require that it be sold eventually.
There's only so much someone like Wyden can actually do beyond lending his public support to the effort, but this public statement gets it back in the news cycle and back in the public consciousness heading into media day and the start of training camp next week. Blazers president of business operations Dewayne Hankins is scheduled to address reporters on Monday. He will undoubtedly field questions about both of these topics. This story isn't going to go away until there is a resolution.