Hales: Moda Center name ‘head scratcher’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Count Mayor Charlie Hales among those who are less than enthused over the new name of the Rose Garden.

Portland Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan and Moda Health President Dr. William Johnson at a news conference announcing a naming rights deal to change the name of the Rose Garden to the Moda Center. Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (Portland Trail Blazers)
Portland Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan and Moda Health President Dr. William Johnson at a news conference announcing a naming rights deal to change the name of the Rose Garden to the Moda Center. Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (Portland Trail Blazers)

The Trail Blazers announced Tuesday they sold the naming rights of the arena to Moda Health, a Portland-based medical and insurance company. The venue will now be called the Moda Center.

“It’s a little bit of a head scratcher for me,” Hales told KOIN 6 News. “I liked the Rose Garden name because it had something to do with the city. I wish them luck in getting the new name to stick.”

The mayor pointed out the city and the public don’t really get to weigh in on the decision through a formal process. “But they do get a say through petitions and communication with the Blazers, and it sounds like folks are doing that.”

A petition was started on change.org asking the Blazers to reconsider the name change.

Petition organizer Jon Garcia told KOIN 6 News. “It makes me feel like any kind of decision they make they just kind of want to make without us.”

He started the Facebook page Rose Garden Forever, and about 1,400 signatures on the petition from people who want to keep the name as the Rose Garden.

“It’s got a personal connection for everybody and I think that’s what this really is all about,” he said.

8-14-13-moda center
The building many people know as the Rose Garden, as seen Aug. 14, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

When he was 5 years old, he watched his first Blazer game at the Rose Garden. No matter what it may say on the marquee outside the building, for Garcia and many other fans it will always be the Rose Garden.

In a statement, Blazers Vice President of Communications Michael Lewellen said, “We are aware that some of our fans are emotional over this news. We respect the opinions of all of our fans and are hopeful that they will eventually understand that this is good for the long-term success of the team and arena.”

Lewellen told KOIN 6 News Moda Health has been in Portland since 1955 and employs about 1,400 people in the area.

The mayor said the city has an interest in the success of the arena and support for the team.

“I hope this disturbance in the force gets resolved in a way that everyone gets along and supports the team.”

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