PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -The Portland Trail Blazers and the Rose Garden are looking for a corporate partner to buy naming rights for the arena, Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said Thursday.
The team and arena are both affiliates of Vulcan, Inc., which is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The Trail Blazers say they have started talking with several interested Portland companies, as well as other regional and national entities, about the deal. It is the first time a corporate-naming partnership has been offered at the Rose Garden since it opened in 1995.
The Blazers say they want to secure a deal in time for the 2008-09 season.
``The goal is to once again find a partner whose core values match our own,'' said Tod Leiweke, the chief executive officer of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment who also helped negotiate the naming rights at Qwest Field, home of another Vulcan-owned team, the Seattle Seahawks.
Billionaire Allen has a rocky history with the arena and team.
He built the Rose Garden for the Trail Blazers, who had outgrown their old home at the aging Memorial Coliseum.
Allen chose to give up Rose Garden ownership in bankruptcy proceedings in 2004 rather than pay interest on construction debt. He financed the arena without public funding, and later shopped for a buyer for the Trail Blazers as they wrapped up its worst season in franchise history.
Last April, Allen's company Vulcan Inc. repurchased the Rose Garden Arena under an agreement with Portland Arena Management, the former owner.
The $262 million Rose Garden Arena opened in the fall of 1995 and seats about 20,000. It hosts more than 160 events annually, including Trail Blazer games and concerts.
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