Wednesday, March 30, 2005
PORTLAND, OR -- The Pacific Coast League, the current owner of the Portland Beavers, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and the Portland Timbers professional soccer team, announced today that an agreement has been signed to sell the teams to Portland Baseball Investment Group (PBIG).
The new ownership group consists of top-level business executives; chief among these investors are majority owner Abe Alizadeh and Portland native and long-time Portland baseball owner, Jack Cain.
"I'm absolutely thrilled about this new venture for Portland," said Alizadeh, an entrepreneur and real estate developer who owns and operates select T.G.I. Friday's locations in the Portland area. "I am also extremely confident in the new management group which was so carefully selected to run the teams' business operations."
Cain, affectionately known by many as one of Portland's baseball pioneers, was the owner of the Portland Rockies and later served as the acting general manager of the Beavers on an interim basis, beginning in April 2004. Cain, who joined the Beavers in 2002 as a special assistant, will continue to lend his ongoing support to the two sports franchises in his new official role as senior advisor and as part of the new ownership group.
"This is a great day for the Pacific Coast League and the City of Portland," said Cain. "I'm proud to be a part of this new group and to be able to provide my hometown with the best in affordable family entertainment."
In addition to Alizadeh and Cain, other key leaders critical to the team's successful transaction efforts include Branch Rickey, president of the Pacific Coast League, and Art Savage, majority owner and CEO of the highly successful Sacramento River Cats and a member of the PCL's executive committee.
Through Savage's consulting firm, Sports Management Consulting, LLC (SMC), Savage was asked by the PCL to help manage and rebuild the existing baseball and soccer organizations. SMC has been involved with consulting on behalf of the league to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Beavers, Timbers and PGE Park since the summer of 2004, and it will continue in the same role on behalf of the new ownership group.
"The transaction is a huge win for Portland and is now in the midst of Minor League Baseball's normal review process," Savage said.
Final approval for the transaction is expected in the next couple of months.
"On behalf of the Pacific Coast League, I'm very pleased that an agreement has been signed to sell the Beavers and Timbers to Portland Baseball Investment Group," Rickey said. "The combination of the ownership group, the current management team in place and Art Savage and his organization will allow the teams and PGE Park to continue on the same path we've established over the past year.
"In summary, we're on the right track and have the right group to make good things happen for Portland," Rickey added.
Strategic additions to the organization have already taken shape, including the recent hiring announcement of the organization's new president and general manager, John Cunningham.
Cunningham, whose duties include overseeing business operations of the Beavers and Timbers, as well as the management of PGE Park, joined the organization in February and has more than 13 years of experience in professional sports and facility management.
"This is an outstanding opportunity for me," said Cunningham, a two-time Executive of the Year in his previous experiences. "Not only am I excited to have joined such a vibrant organization, but I also get to work in PGE Park, one of the finest facilities anywhere. I'm also looking forward to working closely with Jim Taylor (Timbers' general manager) and his talented staff to continue building on the success of soccer in Portland."
STATEMENT FROM KEVIN TOWERS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER - SAN DIEGO PADRES "Today's announcement is a great one for the city of Portland and baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest. The Padres have always enjoyed a tremendous working relationship with the Portland Beavers, and we are eager to see that continue. Our team has a commitment to building a championship-caliber team through scouting and player development, and Portland is an integral part of that. It's exciting to see that the Beavers' new ownership group shares that same commitment. Last year's Portland club had one of its most successful seasons yet, and I see no reason that this year's team cannot build on that. Several players that have had a significant impact on our major league club, including Sean Burroughs, Xavier Nady and Khalil Greene, have gone through Portland and there are several more players such as Tim Stauffer, Justin Germano, Josh Barfield and Ben Johnson who will be playing at PGE Park this season. Being a native Oregonian, it gives me great pleasure in knowing that fans in the Pacific Northwest will be able to enjoy baseball for years to come."
STATEMENT FROM TIM HOLT, VICE PRESIDENT - UNITED SOCCER LEAGUES "United Soccer Leagues is very pleased by recent developments and today's announcement regarding the Portland Timbers, which we believe represents the beginning of long-term ownership stability for the franchise. First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge the diligence of the Pacific Coast League, especially Mr. Branch Rickey and his staff, for their efforts on behalf of USL and the Timbers in identifying a committed and capable ownership group. Despite the recent period of ownership uncertainty, the Portland Timbers have continued to be one of the most successful franchises in United Soccer Leagues on and off the field. Not only did the club garner the league's best regular season record in 2004, but also collected Coach, Executive, and Rookie of the Year Awards. Boasting what is already one of the top attendance averages in all of American professional soccer, we believe that an exciting future of USL First Division soccer awaits the Timbers Army and all the club's supporters, who should be recognized for their passion and unwavering support. Backed by an ownership group and management team who has proven their ability to successfully own and operate professional sports franchises, we can truly state with confidence that professional soccer remains alive and well in Portland."