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Research Project 2014

WHY? The Portland Thunder have a unique opportunity to break into the Portland market and bring Arena Football to the city. Portland is an eccentric city with citizens that are passionate about their sports teams. The diversity of the city shows in the variety of sports teams that call P-Town home. We asked ourselves: What strategies can the Portland Thunder implement to connect with the Portland market and ensure a long, vibrant career in the Rose City?

Table of Contents 01

Sports Culture in Portland 02. Timbers 03. WinterHawks 04. Thorns FC 05. Rose City Rollers 06. Trail Blazers


Case Studies 09. Spokane Shock 21. Oklahoma City Thunder 33. New Orleans Pelicans 47. Portland Timbers 61. Seattle Sounders 75. Portland Trail Blazers


Recommendations 92. Taglines 93. In-Game Promotions 97. Community Involvement 98. Atmosphere 99. Tips to Succeed

Sports Culture in portland

Passionate as F*@$.

Sports Culture in PDX

“It’s a winning culture, no doubt about it.”



Sports Culture in PDX

“A huge part of our comeback had to do with attacking the north end with the Timbers Army sparking us on. They were behind us 100 percent, and they were like a vacuum sucking the ball into the back of the net in the second half.”

-Caleb Porter, Head Coach

“This city is a natural city for MLS…the appetite for soccer here is unbelievable.” -Merritt Paulson, Owner

The Portland Timbers are Portland’s first major league soccer experience. They took a minor league franchise, received an MLS expansion team, and built a whole new stadium and culture around the team. The Timbers have a dedicated fan base in the Timbers Army that attend every home game and are an integral part of the Timbers game-day experience. With constant support, fan interaction, and experiences, the Timbers have become one of the elite franchises in Major League Soccer. Success followed the Timbers from their transition from the USL to the MLS and was highlighted when they reached the Western Conference Finals in 2013.

“It’s One of the most exciting places to play in the country.”

Sports Culture in PDX


“We’re lucky to enjoy one of the best fan bases in all of hockey, and to reach eight million is a great tribute to the passion hockey fans have shown for this franchise since it arrived in 1976,”

-Doug Piper, President

“Hockey was one thing, but it’s just as important how you carried yourself off the ice. My experience there and the family I lived with molded me into who I am today.” -Randy Heath, Former Player

The Portland Winterhawks are an extremely successful minor league hockey team. The Winterhawks draw in many international athletes and is a attraction for fans due to the fact that it is a proving ground for young athletes on their way to the NHL. Games are commonly sold out and the Hawks are constantly interacting with their fans through promotions. In recent years, the Winterhawks have seen success throughout their seasons, winning the Western Conference every year since 2010. The Winterhawks brought a championship to Portland in 2013 by winning the Western Hockey League. This team is credited with bringing hockey culture into Portland and the Pacific Northwest.

“Basketball is expensive. Soccer has Annoying fans. It’s a great family experience.”

Sports Culture in PDX


“It felt like that atmosphere we had at the World Cup and at the Olympics. It was an unbelievable atmosphere.”

-Cindy Parlow Cone, Coach

“Portland’s soccer fans — Timbers and now Thorns — are emphatic, passionate, joyful, motivated, supportive, and educated. A huge bouncing, flag waving, chanting pack of allies.” -Sunday White, Rose City Riveter

The Portland Thorns FC began playing in Portland after the NWSL formed in 2012, following the collapse of the WPS. The Thorns fit into the Portland sports culture due to their direct connection to the existing soccer community and support of the LBGTQ community. The Rose City is no stranger to soccer, with having the Timbers being an integral part of sports in the city, so adding a high profile womens team only helped to fuel the passion and push the sport. In their inaugural season, the Thorns won the first ever National Women’s Soccer League Championship. The Thorns are able to fill seats due to popular players that were drawn to Portland due to the unique culture that is offered and their connection to Portland in many ways.

“This city gets that type of crowd.”

Sports Culture in PDX


“What can be better than fine looking women in mini skirts and fish nets knockin’ each other around on roller skates?”

-Shawna, Dedicated Fan

“I got into it thinking, ‘This will be a good hobby.’ But once you get into it you realize that it isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. You either do it or you don’t.” -Brutal Beauty Documentary

The Rose City Rollers bring a fast-paced and hard-hitting sport that had never been seen before in the Portland area. The draw to roller derby is the fact that it is out of the ordinary compared to the “normal” sports that fans are used to seeing. Established in 2004, the Rose City Rollers are founding members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, which field 6 separate all-female roller derby teams. Success for the Rose City Rollers has started to build as they reached Round 1 of the championship in 2011. The Rollers have many programs to help bring awareness and growth to their organization. The Rose Buds, a junior program to help bring kids into the sport and teach teamwork and communication; and the Wreckers, a recreational league for those interested in competing in roller derby on a professional level. Fans pour in to watch this unique and action packed sport.

“It’s a game of brutal beauty.”

Sports Culture in PDX

“You couldn’t start the game until Shonz says his famous quote..”Good Evening Blazer Fans, Wherever you may be”..and closed it out with..”Goodnight Evvvvvverybody!” a kid would listen to most all games alone in my room.. He is part of the family for sure..”

-Dave Schedin, Long-time Fan

“We played well. We play off the crowd here at home. We’re going to have to get that energy and that enthusiasm when we go on the road, but it was a good showing for our home fans and for us tonight.”

-Wesley Matthews, Player

The Portland Trail Blazers were Portland’s first major sport franchise in any of the four major sports divisions. With the introduction of the Blazers to Portland, the city rallied around the team and crafted them into what they are today. The Trail Blazers were the only professional sports team in Portland for 40 years until the addition of the Portland Timbers in 2009. With a span like that of only having one pro sports team, fans are going to be deeply rooted in the organization. Sell out after sell out. Dunk after dunk. Win or lose. The city of Portland is united around their team. Fans flock from different states and even different countries to experience a Trail Blazers basketball game. The energy is electric and the fans are dedicated and supportive no matter the outcome of the game.

“It’s always one of the best crowds in all of basketball.”


Sports Culture in PDX


“I wouldn’t want to be the away team.”

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Location Spokane, Washington

population 300,000

Founded 2005

Other teams Chiefs

Indians Shine

Why we chose them The Spokane Shock are an AFL team based out of Eastern Washington, they will be the Thunder’s Pacific Northwest rival. The Shock broke into a market with no professional sports teams residing in the area around Spokane. The Shock have seen success in the league and in fan interaction.

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The beginning Nestled in the Inland Empire of Washington State, the Spokane Shock bring forth hard-hitting and fast-paced arena football action. The Shock, the Chiefs, the Shine, and the Indians make up the Spokane sports market, making it incredibly unique compared to cities of the same size. In 2005, the city of Spokane received an expansion to play in the arenafootball2 league, the development league for the AFL at the time, and played their first game on March 30, 2006.

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In the Shock’s first season in the af2, they amassed a 14-2 regular season record, winning the Western Division title, and advancing to the playoffs, eventually defeating the Green Bay Blizzard to win ArenaCup VII. The Shock became the first expansion team to win the ArenaCup in af2 history.


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In the years following their first ArenaCup Championship, the Shock have won five consecutive division championships (2006-2010), won another ArenaCup in 2009, moved to the Arena Football League for the 2010 season, and won ArenaBowl XXIII in the first year of the new league. The Shock also have appeared in the playoffs all but once since their induction into the league in 2006.

The Journey


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The Shock were the first team to ever hold an arena football game outdoors at Joe Albi Stadium on July 9, 2011. The Shock also set a team record in attendance with 16,233 people coming and supporting the Shock to a victory over Utah. The Spokane Shock are a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific Northwest.

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Shock Marketing Materials

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Shox the Fox Shox the Fox is Spokane’s most diehard Shock fan. Constantly running around the field on Shock game days, dancing with the Shock Dance Team and interacting fans are all in a days work for Shox.


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Rockstar Dance Team The Spokane Shock Rockstar Energy Dance Team provide halftime entertainment and keep the crowd entertained and cheering for the Shock.

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Spokane Sports Culture


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The sports culture in Spokane is very unique as there is no major sports team inside the city. The fan response and overall culture, however, rivals cities with major sports teams. Spokane has been host to many major sporting events, including the 2007 US Figure Skating Championship, Bloomsday, Hoopfest, and the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.


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Location Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

population 600,000

Founded 1967

Other teams RedHawks NASL Barons Energy FC Rattlers Victory Dolls Bounty Hunters

Why we chose them The Oklahoma City Thunder are a NBA team based out of Oklahoma City. The Thunder reached into a unique market when they moved from Seattle into Oklahoma City, as a professional sports team had not been in Oklahoma City before.

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The history of the Oklahoma City Thunder actually begins in 1967 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Supersonics joined the NBA as an expansion team for the 1967 season. The Sonics got off to a rocky start in their first few seasons in Seattle, amassing a total record of 127201 (0.631). With the pickup of Spencer Haywood during the 1971 season and after bringing back Lenny Wilkens as a coach, the Sonics reached the ‘77 NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

The Supersonics


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“Party Time. Sonics Win!”

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After a dismal first few seasons in Seattle, the Sonics finally won a NBA Championship in 1979. This championship would be the only one that the Sonics achieved. The start of the 1980 season began to see the Sonics struggle to regain their footing and eventually led to the team being sold, much to the dismay of fans and the city of Seattle, to a group of investors in Oklahoma City in 2008.

“It’s More like my wife was kidnapped with no ransom notice.”


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the transition


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The team relocated to Oklahoma City for the 2008-2009 season and their inaugural season in OKC was one of a transition year. With shifting around personnel and adjustments to the team, their season was riddled with disappointment, going 23-59 (0.389). The next seasons in Oklahoma City proved to be a turn around for the franchise, reaching the NBA Playoffs and winning their division in back-to-back-to-back seasons (2011-2013).



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The Oklahoma City Thunder reached the NBA Finals for the first time in their short history. The Thunder ran through the playoffs to reach the Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, before losing 4-1 in the series. The Thunder brought basketball to the Big Friendly and it is there to stay.

Shattered Dreams

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Promotional Material

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Oklahoma City Sports culture


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Oklahoma City is a wonderful market to be in for the Thunder as they are the only professional sports team in the market. Even while going through a relocation and rebranding themselves to be the Thunder, OKC has survived as a franchise due to their constant interaction with fans through in-game promotions, social media, and relying on brand advocates in the Blue Alliance to provide hype and interaction between the fans and the team. Oklahoma City does a great job on making their brand attractive to fans on a personal level.

“We have the best fans in all of sports.�


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Location New Orleans, Louisiana

population 370,000

Founded 2012

Other teams Saints Blaze

Zephyrs VooDoo

Why we chose them The New Orleans Pelicans are a professional basketball team located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Pelicans have gone through multiple rebrands throughout the history of the team. The most recent of which has allowed for them to focus on connecting with their city and creating a team that fits into the New Orleans culture.

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New Orleans Hornets The Hornets originally began their journey in Charlotte but after a 23-year record that was not admirable and an inability to secure an arena deal, the Hornets landed in New Orleans for the 2002 season. The first season sparked a following and passion for basketball in the Big Easy. The Hornets reached the playoffs but eventually fell to the 76ers. This was a great start to the Hornets tenure in New Orleans and helped shape the basketball movement.


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Monday. August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst storms in the history of the United States, crippled the city of New Orleans. In the aftermath of the disaster, the Hornets were forced to relocate to Oklahoma City for the 2006-2007 seasons. In the wake of heartbreak back home, the Hornets received Chris Paul in the 2005 Draft, who later won Rookie of the Year honors. Their seasons in Oklahoma City were a chance for the city and the organization to come together as one, uniting New Orleans with their brand.


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Returning to New Orleans and settling into their brand new arena, New Orleans hosted the NBA All Star game in 2008. During their first season back, the Hornets won the Southwest Division title. They were poised to win both their division and conference titles. Injuries and personnel changes led to disappointing follow-up seasons. Ownership of the Hornets changed hands and the team went through a major rebrand to connect more with the New Orleans community and atmosphere.



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The Shift

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The new owners of the Pelicans decided that they wanted the team to be more in touch with the community, hence the name change, and brought together the city of New Orleans around their sport. Facing extinction in the ‘60s and falling victim to the worst oil spill in history, the brown pelican’s resiliency in the face of extreme peril epitomizes what Louisiana and its basketball team is all about.


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The Pelicans currently are struggling in the Southwest Division in their first year since the rebranding of the team. Hopes are still alive for the team to make the playoffs and compete to win a championship in the NBA. The Pelicans have been able to connect with the community of New Orleans and have an audience behind them that are connected on a human level, rather than a purely brand level.


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Pelicans marketing Materials

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Pierre the Pelican Pierre the Pelican began his life as a somewhat frightening version of a pelican but after getting his beak broken by fellow NBA mascot Griz from the Memphis Grizzlies, he had to undergo emergency facial reconstruction. Though the injury was serious and took many hours of surgery, Pierre was able to make a return to All Star weekend after only three days of recovery. Pierre is back to full strength and has been recovering nicely by performing at halftime and practicing magic with the help of the crowd.



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New Orleans Sports culture



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New Orleans is a place where passion and creativity drive every decision that is made. Whether it be from Mardi Gras to sporting events, the community is the one that drive the executions and they are who the city look to when enacting something new or bringing in a new team. Pelicans owner Rita Benson LeBlanc said, “What we are so good about in New Orleans is building out our culture of music and food, and now it’s that culture of sports.” After the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, the region came together and began to rebuild, not only their city, but the culture that is synonymous with New Orleans. The sports teams are no different when it comes to their methods of connecting with the fans. The Pelicans tag-line for their promotional material this year is “Take Flight,” symbolizing both the abilities of the winged fowl that the team is named after, but also representing the connection between the team and community.

“it’s a symbol of strength, not only for a basketball team, but for a whole city.”


Case Studies

Location Portland, Oregon

population 603,000

Founded 2009

Other teams Trail Blazers Thorns FC Thunder Winterhawks Rose City Rollers

Why we chose them The Portland Timbers are a professional soccer team playing in the MLS. The Timbers are deeply rooted in Portland sports history and have been able to successfully tap into the soccer culture that surrounds the city.

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ups and downs The Timbers were one of Portland’s original sports teams and a part of the North American Soccer League, beginning in 1975. In their inaugural season in Portland, the Timbers made an incredible run to the Championship game, gaining fans and the moniker “Soccer City USA.” They reached the playoffs three times between 1975 and 1981. The NASL eventually collapsed in 1985 but the Timbers legacy lived on when they moved up into the Western Soccer League and continued their dominance beginning in the 1989 season, reaching the WSL semifinals. In 1990, the Rose City once again lost the Timbers due to the folding of the WSL.

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Triumphant return


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With the dawn of a new millennium, the Timbers reclaimed the hearts of area soccer fans in 2001 as a member of the United Soccer League and quickly established themselves among the elite clubs. In the USL, their fiercest rival was their PNW counterpart, the Seattle Sounders, a rivalry that still holds to this day. The Timbers were able to win the Commissioner’s Cup in 2006 and 2009. They also went on a 24 game unbeaten streak, not only a USL record but one of the longest in U.S. soccer history. In 10 seasons in the USL, the Timbers put together a staggering eight winning seasons and reached the playoffs seven times.


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the rise



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The Timbers moved up to U.S. soccers’ elite division in 2011. The jump to the MLS was full of ups and downs for the Timbers during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Going 19-30-19 for their first two seasons in the Rose City was not how they wanted to introduce Major League Soccer to the market. They ended the 2012 season by claiming the Cascadia Cup, a staple of Pacific Northwest soccer history. 2013 would be a major turn around year for the Timbers. Claiming 1st in the Western Conference, the Timbers made it to the Conference Championship game before falling to Real Salt Lake 5-2 on aggregate.

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In 2011, the Timbers organization invited fans to their downtown store to have their own lumberjack photos taken to show their team spirit and support for the city’s soccer team. The Timbers even took this one step further and used some of the photos of local fans wielding axes, chainsaws, and timber saws on billboards, posters, and advertisements all around the city. The campaign brought hype and fan interaction heading into the Timbers inaugural season.

timbers marketing Materials

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For 2013, the Timbers wanted to give back to their community by offering up nominations for fans to win free Timbers tickets. The Spread the Love Campaign went to social media and newspapers that allowed for people to nominate others who they thought deserved experience a Timbers game. The campaign was a huge success and increased Timbers awareness for the rest of the 2013 season.


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In the early days of the NASL club, the Timbers started a unique and beloved game-day tradition that continues to this day – the cutting of the “log slab.” After each goal scored at home by the Timbers, a round is cut from the victory log behind the North goal. Amidst a cloud of sawdust and the roar of a chainsaw, fans celebrate. This time-honored tradition has helped make Timbers matches a one-of-a-kind soccer experience in the United States. Timber Jim started the tradition by hanging from rafters with a running chainsaw in tow. Jim retired and Timber Joey took over the position in 2008, continuing the Timbers tradition that captures the attention and hearts of the Timber faithful.

Timber Joey

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The Timbers Army are the main support group for the Portland Timbers. Its members are known for their loud, enthusiastic support and the raucous atmosphere they create at Timbers home games. The Timbers Army was founded in 2001 as the Cascade Rangers, a reference to the Cascade Range of mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Die hard soccer fans, the Timbers Army bleed green and white. Whether win or lose, the Timber faithful love their team and their city.

Timbers Army


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Section 107 creates a European-style rooting section for the club, complete with drumming, flags, tifos, scarves, smoke bombs and constant chanting and cheering. The Timbers Army occupy 9 sections at the North end of Providence Park but their reach does not stop there. There are 12 different chapters of the Timbers Army that span all across the nation. These fans may not always be able to attend a game in Portland but you better believe that they bring the noise at home or at their local MLS team games when Portland is playing.


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Location Seattle, Washington

population 634,000

Founded 2007

Other teams Seahawks Mariners Reign FC Storm Thunderbirds

Why we chose them The Seattle Sounders are a professional soccer team playing in the MLS. The Sounders have a deep history in the Seattle sports scene, dating back to 1974 in the North American Soccer League. These deep roots allow for story to be crafted to fit into the culture of Seattle.

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The Seattle Sounders organization has been around since the 1970s, playing in the NASL division, reaching the playoffs multiple times and winning many conference championships before the folding of the team in 1983.


In 1994, the Sounders name was rebirthed to be the name of the newly granted USL expansion team that was to be located in Seattle.


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Dominance In the USL, the Sounders began to assert their dominance by winning a championship in 1995, 1996, 2005, and 2007. During this span of championships, the Sounders also won the Commissioner’s Cup 3 times, the Pacific Division Championship 3 times, the Western Conference Championship in 2004, and the Cascadia Cup in back-to-back years. The Cascadia Cup was a competition between three bitter rivals in the Pacific Northwest that awarded a trophy to the team who finishes with the best record in the season series. This tradition carried over into the MLS when the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps moved into the league in 2007, 2009, and 2011 respectively.

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Poppin’ the bubbly


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In 2007, the Sounders were awarded an expansion team to play in the MLS, making them the 15th team in the league. The move to the MLS did not stop the momentum that the Sounders had in the USL. The Sounders have made it to the playoffs every year since their induction into the top tier soccer league in the U.S. However, the Sounders have come up short in their championship runs since joining the league. The Sounders won back-to-back-to-back U.S. Open Cup titles between 2009-2011 and won the Cascadia Cup, the coveted trophy of the Pacific Northwest.


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Winning Formula

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give your full 90

The Sounders contacted local advertising idea factory Wexley School for Girls to produce their original launch material to get the fans hyped about the upcoming Sounders season. Wexley took on a guerrilla tactic as they overtook the streets of Seattle with thousands of Sounders scarves. The result: the Sounders FC broke every record in the league for tickets sales and sold out every game. They wanted the support from fans to make sure that they gave a full 90 minutes of support to the team.

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Date with a sounder For their follow up season to the Full 90 campaign by Wexley, they were challenged once again by the Sounders to create buzz and connect with the fans. The overall goal was to utilize a fun campaign to introduce the city to the players individually. The campaign included billboards featuring players like Roger Levesque and Brad Evans, “bio� videos, cards of players, Facebook bids to win dates, eBay postings to bid on a date, and publications in many Seattle newspapers.


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renewal Campaign

In order to help ensure fans would renew season ticket memberships, Wexley created invitations that mimicked wedding invites, asking fans to join the Sounders for another season. The campaign also feature videos of individual players like Roger Levesque, Steve Zakuani, and Kasey Keller asking fans to renew their memberships. The campaign was a success for the three seasons it ran, increasing season ticket sales every year.

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Sounders social



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The Sounders FC app is a place for fans to view a timeline of events, schedule of games, player bios, and gives a list of the best Sounders friendly pubs to watch games at. The Sounders monitor fans activity across multiple social media platforms and give special recognition for repping the Sounders and spreading the word about their favorite team.

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Seattle making major shifts in its sports culture and landscape. It’s easy to overlook the Pacific Northwest when it comes to professional sports, but the city of Seattle is looking to change that. Many claim 2008 was the worst year ever for Seattle sports. The Mariners had their first 100-loss season in 25 years, accompanied by a 12-game losing streak. The Seattle Seahawks finished the season 4-12. The Seattle SuperSonics ended with the franchise’s worst record of 20-62. This ended up being the SuperSonics’ final season in Seattle and to the dismay of their fans and the city, were sold and relocated to Oklahoma City. Despite a losing year and a major sports team being taken away from them, Seattle has overcome adversity and heartbreak to grow as a unified fan base behind every team in the city. There is no other fan base that gets as loud as Seattle fans do at home, it’s actually a Guinness World Record. With the Seahwaks bringing a championship home this year and the movement of the 12th Man, sports in Seattle are flourishing to levels never before achieved.


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Location Portland, Oregon

population 603,000

Founded 1970

Other teams Timbers Thorns FC Thunder Winterhawks Rose City Rollers

Why we chose them The Portland Trail Blazers were Portland’s first professional franchise and the only professional team in the city for over 40 years. The Blazers have overcome trials and controversy to become an elite powerhouse in fan interaction and audience retention.

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Harry Glickman fought to bring an NBA team to Portland for years and years until the league finally took recognition of his proposal and gave an expansion to Portland in 1970. After raising the funds to field a team by partnering with investors, Harry and the organization let the public decide what the team name would be. The city chose named their team the Trail Blazers, inspired by the trail blazing activity by explorers through forests and represents both the ruggedness of the Pacific Northwest and the start of a major league era in the state. The Blazers won their first, and only, NBA Championship in 1977.



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Between 1980 and 1983, the Blazers were a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific Division and made the playoffs all but one year during that time span. The Lakers and the Rockets were the only teams to reach the NBA Finals during those years with the Blazers falling short every time they got close to another championship. The Trail Blazers were plagued with problems with ownership, conflicting thoughts on the starting line-up, and injuries. This was only the beginning of the Blazers issues that started in the mid-1980s.

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Draft Faux pas In 1984, the Blazers had the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft and decided to go with Kentucky Center Sam Bowie. The following pick was by the Chicago Bulls and they picked a pretty impressive player out of UNC, Michael Jordan. Bowie suffered from injuries for most of his career with the Blazers and is considered by many to be the worst draft pick in professional sports history. Michael Jordan went on to become arguably one of the greatest basketball players of all time.


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rip city The Blazers began to turn things around beginning in the 1990 season, they reached the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992 and claimed a league best 63-19 record before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in 1991. The Trail Blazers had the second longest sellout streak in all of professional sports of 814 games until they moved from the Memorial Coliseum to the Rose Garden in 1995.

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the portland jail Blazers


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Starting in the 1995 season, management at the Trail Blazers organization acquired some very talented players. They performed well on the court but made questionable, often illegal, decisions off the court. Isaiah Rider was arrested for marijuana possession two days before debuting for the Blazers. Other players also struggled with staying above the law, many getting arrested for marijuana possession. The nickname “Jail Blazers� began to plague the team that the city once loved and supported full heartedly. The 1995 season began to snowball into a decade long skid of issues and discontent from fans.

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The turnaround

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With the pickup of Greg Oden in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Blazers fortunes began to turn around from their decade long slump. Oden struggled with injuries during the 2007 season but debuted the following season. This acquisition plus the combination of other players hitting their stride in Portland led the Trail Blazers to their first playoff appearance since 2003. The Blazers eventually lost in the first round to the Houston Rockets but the chemistry of the team on and off the court led to a reconnection with fans in the Rose City.


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Reconnecting with fans


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Promotional Billboard

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Blazers social hub


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Blazers mobile app


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Create the Court




Through our research of the Rose City, fellow organizations that have gone through rebrands, and teams that have successfully connected with their city and fans, we have some recommendations that the Portland Thunder should utilize in order to make their organization successful in connecting with the Portland sports atmosphere. The Portland Thunder are impactful and powerful and these ideas can help them connect with the city.



Thunder struck Thunder Rolls Rolling Thunder Loud and Proud Rollin’ Through


feel the quake Play loud Hit loud Wall to Wall Be the hammer. not the nail



in-game promotions It all starts with the coin toss. By bringing out local celebrities and key people from Portland to do the coin toss, the Thunder will be able to connect to the community. Key people could include: the mayor of Portland, police chiefs, local business owners, veterans, professional athletes, philanthropists, artists, etc.

Each time a PDX Thunder Players has a huge hit, let the thunder noise ring throughout the Moda Center by using the Thunder button. During replays, invite the crowd to vote on the biggest hit of the game or have a fan hit the button.



Football Toss/Hammer Toss Sell mini branded foam footballs or hammers at the start of each game as fans come into the Moda Center. These footballs will be numbered and have the Thunder logo on the side. At halftime, fans will have the option to throw their football into a series of trashcans or banners placed on the field. Each trashcan or banner will be associated with a prize that fans can win. Prizes will range from free tickets to Thunder games, autographs, free meals, invitations to practices, dinner with the team, jerseys, shirts, a supply of Voodoo donuts, vouchers for tours of Portland, and tickets to other Portland sporting events. Part of the money made from the sale of the mini footballs can be donated to local charities, kids organizations in Portland, sports skills camps, athletic programs around the city, concussion and athlete health research programs, etc.



The Thunder need a mascot that pumps up the crowd during game day, makes public appearances at schools or community events, and attends other sporting events to spread awareness about the hard-hitting action that the Thunder bring to the Rose City. Who better to represent the team than Thor, the God of Thunder. Wielding a hammer, he represents what the team is all about. Packing a punch that frightens all other competitors, Thor could strike his hammer after every touchdown that the team scores intiating the thunder noise that booms throughout the stadium.

Thor the mascot



thunder bolts Kids and youth clubs could have great adventures at Portland Thunder games. The Thunder Bolts would be a special group focused on tickets sales to youth organizations and also offer local skills camps during the season. By connecting with local youth clubs like the YMCA, Big Brother/Big Sister program, local area schoosl, and the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts of America, the Thunder would build a relationship with these organizations by giving them perks for attending Thunder home games. Schools and organizations could nominate kids to run out with players during introductions, or participate in warm-ups with the team. During halftime, youth football teams could hold mini-games during halftime and be recognized for their outstanding performance on the field and in the classroom.



To connect with the city, the Thunder should utilize items around the city to spread the word about their team. Teaming up with public transportation would allow for the crashing thunder sound to replace crosswalk noises, the sound of the MAX arriving to the platform, and other common sounds you hear around the city of Portland. The Thunder should also go and put the hammer to good use by working on community rebuilding projects that benefit the city and local residents. During the season, commission a local PDX artist to create a metal hammer trophy to give away at silent actions to benefit the community or as awards players at the end of the season.

Community involvement



The best way to connect with people is through ambassadors that love the sport and will tell their family, friends, and colleagues about what Portland Thunder football is all about. The Rolling Thunder could help this team immensely by feeding off the atmosphere that other local team supporters bring to Portland sporting events, like the Timbers Army. Behind every team is a dedicated section of fans that provide in-game hype, team motivation, create tifos, rattle the opposing team, and act as community ambassadors. We recommend that the Rolling Thunder claim a certain section in the arena. Naming the first three rows along the edge of the arena, “The Sound Barrier,� would increase hype and excitement for fans wanting to cheer on the Thunder.



Tips to succeed learn from the past and adapt It is key to tell a story around players, the team, and the city. Highlight the things that players bring to the team that add to the overall value of the team. This gives a connection point to the fans and supporters.

Timing is everything You need to provide the right message at the right time. Fans and media are most involved with the team around the time that games are scheduled so content needs to be pushed at that time through various methods, including social media and fan sites.

leverage technology Connect with the one-of-a-kind city that Portland is and give an inside look at day-to-day and game-time operations inside the Thunder organization. Connecting with fans every day allows a relationship to be formed. Allow for fans to have their activity highlighted through the Thunder social media channels.

Staff = Best brand champions Bring news, player acquisitions, marketing materials, and all team information to every staff member in order to allow them to be able to talk authentically and enthusiastically about the team.



Relationships are key You need to show that you care. Connecting with your fans and the community will allow for your team to grow and connect with the city.

understand PDX Culture Portland has an underdog mentality. The people of Portland love to have choices and opinions, so be consistent in your engagement with fans. The Portland community is driven by the do it yourself mindset where everyone is involved with a personally significant interest. The city is defined by humble leaders.

be real Allow for players to be as accessible as possible. Fans want to be able to feel like they are connected on a personal level to the players. By creating this environment, the players and fans can form a long lasting relationship.

Tell Stories By telling the stories of individual players and their experiences and aspirations, the connection to fans is on a personal basis rather than a brand to consumer basis.




We believe that the Thunder organization will be successful in Portland if they are able to connect and build a lasting relationship with the Rose City. In their inaguaral season, the Thunder should build a story around the team that exemplifies what Portland represents. Portland is a unique market for the Thunder to break into and they need to deliver on the powerful and impactful nature that their name implies.

Thank you!

Portland Thunder Research Project  

This piece shows in-depth research and a strategic direction for a new arena football team.

Portland Thunder Research Project  

This piece shows in-depth research and a strategic direction for a new arena football team.