Report: Oregon businessman wants to buy Blazers

Updated: May 19, 2006, 11:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Mark Wattles, the founder and former CEO of video-rental chain Hollywood Video, is interested in buying the Portland Trail Blazers, according to a report posted Friday night on The Oregonian's Web site.

Paul Allen, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder who owns the Trail Blazers, claims he can no longer sustain the team's financial losses. He has said he needs public assistance or he will have to sell the team.

City and state officials, meanwhile, have said there's no financial aid to give.

Wattles, 45, told The Oregonian he has notified Allen's representatives about his interest in the Blazers. Wattles also is looking into buying the team's arena, the Rose Garden.

"I love basketball," Wattles told the newspaper. "I love business. I love Portland. Why not the business of basketball in Portland?"

The Rose Garden was originally financed by Allen without public money. But the team's sister company, Oregon Arena Corp., declared bankruptcy in 2004 and Allen chose to give up ownership rather than continue to pay interest on construction debt.

As a result, team revenue -- from things such as luxury suites -- declined sharply, along with ticket sales. Allen has estimated the team will lose $100 million over the next three seasons.

Portland Arena Management, the company formed to represent the arena lenders, now owns the Rose Garden.

Former Trail Blazers star Terry Porter, who helped the team reach the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, also is interested in buying the team and areana.

Porter's group says it has $100 million in debt financing lined up. NBA commissioner David Stern has estimated the team and arena are worth about $300 million.

Wattles told The Oregonian he is not interested in making a joint bid with Porter's group and that he is able to buy the team on his own.

Wattles resigned as CEO of Hollywood Video last year after Blockbuster Video's failed attempt at a takeover. Hollywood Video then merged with Movie Gallery.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE