Timbers' Merritt Paulson receives Sportsperson of the Year Award at 60th Oregon Sports Awards

Club owner, president honored for outstanding achievements during inaugural 2011 MLS season

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Timbers Owner/President Merritt Paulson was awarded the Slats Gill Award for Sportsperson of the Year as part of the 60th Oregon Sports Awards, it was announced Sunday evening at the Oregon Sports Awards show held in Beaverton, Ore.

The Sportsperson of the Year, an award named after legendary Oregon State coach and administrator Slats Gill, is given to an outstanding coach, administrator or organization from an Oregon-based team at any level of competition during the calendar year.

Named to Sports Business Journal’s exclusive “Forty Under 40” class of 2011, Paulson’s diligent efforts – an arduous process that began in 2008 – to bring a second major league sports franchise to Portland and to transform JELD-WEN Field into one of the most intimate sports venues in the country came to life during the Timbers’ inaugural MLS season in 2011. Under Paulson’s leadership, the Timbers, who were awarded Major League Soccer’s 18th franchise on March 20, 2009, have sold out all of their regular-season home games (17 straight), developed award-winning marketing campaigns and transformed the region’s sporting landscape by creating one of the most authentic and exciting in-game experiences in sports.

Leading into their second MLS season, the Timbers achieved more than a 97 percent renewal rate on season tickets and quickly reached their expanded cap of 14,750 season tickets available for 2012. Additionally, the team has a Season Ticket Waiting List that numbers more than 6,500 fans. 

With the honor, Paulson, one of five finalists for the Sportsperson of the Year award, became just the second non-coach to be so-honored in the history of the award, the first since Harry Glickman of the Portland Trail Blazers in 1970. Further, Paulson is the first soccer-related figure to receive the award since 2002 and just the third overall in the sport since the award was founded in 1957. The others are legendary NASL Timbers player and Portland soccer icon Clive Charles (1995, 2002) and NASL Timbers head coach Vic Crowe (1975).

Paulson sits on the boards of the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Oregon Sports Authority and Panthera. He and his wife have two daughters and live in the Portland area.

Slats Gill Award/Sportsperson of the Year Winners:
2011: Merritt Paulson - soccer

2010: Chip Kelly – football
2009: Chip Kelly – football
2008: Mike Riley – football
2007: Pat Casey – baseball
2006: Pat Casey – baseball
2005: Pat Casey – baseball
2004: Danny Miles – basketball
2003: Ernie Kent – basketball
2002: Clive Charles – soccer
2001: Mike Bellotti – football
1996: Brad Smith – basketball
1995: Clive Charles – soccer
1994: Rich Brooks – football
1993: Gordie James – basketball
1992: Rick Adelman – basketball
1991: Ad Rutschman – football
1990: Rick Adelman – basketball
1989: Rich Brooks – football
1988: Pokey Allen – football
1987: Pokey Allen – football
1986: Ad Rutschman – football
1985: Jeff Mozzochi – volleyball
1984: Ad Rutschman – football
1983: Ken Hodge – hockey
1982: Ad Rutschman – football
1981: Ralph Miller – basketball
1980: Ralph Miller – basketball
1979: Rich Brooks – football
1978: Ad Rutschman – football
1977: Jack Ramsey – basketball
1976: Darrel “Mouse” Davis – football
1975: Vic Crowe – soccer
1974: Laurence (Doc) Savage – football
1973: Jack Dunn – baseball
1972: Dale Thomas – wrestling
1971: Bill Bowerman – track and field
1970: Harry Glickman – basketball
1969: Dick McCLain – baseball
1968: John Allen – football
1967: Dee Andros – football
1966: Paul Valenti – basketball
1965: Hal Laycoe – hockey
1964: John Lipon – baseball
1963: Joe Huston – football
1962: Bill Bowerman – track and field
1961: Paul Durham – football
1960: Ted Ogdahl – football
1959: Fred Spiegelberg – football
1958: Tom DeSylvia – football
1957: Len Casanova & Tommy Prothro – football

About the Oregon Sports Awards

Originally the Hayward Banquet of Champions, the Oregon Sports Awards began in 1948 to honor Oregon’s outstanding professional and amateur athletes, teams, coaches and administrators from many levels and a wide range of sports. In 2001, Nike, the Portland Tribune and Oregon-based sports marketing and entertainment agency SportsOne revived the event under its current name to include a stage-show, additional award categories and a new venue—the state-of-the-art, 770-seat Stanford Theatre at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore