Timbers introduce new owner Merritt Paulson

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Beavers, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and the Portland Timbers professional soccer team, announced today that an agreement has been signed to sell the teams to Shortstop, LLC.

The new ownership will consist primarily of Merritt Paulson, Manager of Shortstop, LLC and most recently Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development at NBA Entertainment in New York. As part of the purchase, Merritt, 34, and his wife, Heather, are in the process of moving to Portland and becoming part of the local community.

Paulson will assume the role of President and General Manager for the Portland Beavers, and President of the Portland Timbers, currently open positions.


The long-term goals of the new ownership will be to optimize and continue to improve the fan experience at all PGE Park events. Paulson also is fiercely dedicated to better integrating the two franchises together into the Portland community and will be focusing on community outreach. “These teams can be a catalyst to help people of all ages by getting them involved, in helping to shine a light on areas of the community that need attention, and by generating the resources needed to make this community a better place for everyone. We have several significant announcements along these lines in the near future, so stay tuned,” Paulson added.

“I’m looking forward to building on the rich baseball and soccer tradition in Portland with a focus on community involvement,” Paulson said. “My aim is to make PGE Park the preeminent destination for family entertainment.”

Paulson believes the Portland community and the teams are at a crucial crossroads in their relationship. “Portland is a fabulous baseball market, and I see enormous soccer growth potential here as well. There is tremendous positive momentum with the Beavers and Timbers, and I believe we can build on that to create the ultimate family sports entertainment experience befitting a city of Portland’s caliber.”

Paulson’s professional career has been focused on consumer entertainment and sports, which will provide a strong foundation for ownership in both minor league teams. After completing his MBA at Harvard, Paulson was part of a joint venture in Palo Alto, Calif., that focused on building high-speed wireless networks. He then moved to New York to become the manager of HBO on Demand and was part of the team that launched the first premium subscription video on-demand service. After HBO, Paulson moved to NBA Entertainment and has been serving as the Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development at NBA Entertainment for the last four years. In that role, he helped launch and develop NBA-TV and had responsibility for both marketing and business development efforts of NBA TV and NBA LEAGUE PASS.

From a personal standpoint, Paulson is looking forward to getting to the Northwest and starting his life here. He and his wife are passionate outdoor enthusiasts who have made many visits to Portland to enjoy the outdoors and scenery. Paulson is also very environmentally active, serving as a trustee on the board of the Wildlife Conservation and traveling extensively in Central and South America on trips focusing on wildlife and natural history.

“Living in a city that is at the heart of the green movement is a very invigorating opportunity. Both Heather and I feel that Portland has a focus on family that is truly unique and will be a great community to raise our own family in the future,” Paulson said.

“I have long had the goal of owning and operating a sports franchise,” Paulson said. “Of course, the deal had to meet certain investment criteria, but more importantly, the community also had to be a place Heather and I would be enthusiastic about living in and raising children. Portland quickly became the focus as it passed with such flying colors on both fronts.”

"Merritt is not only an outstanding sports executive, he is someone who understands the relationship between sports and community,” said David J. Stern, Commissioner of the NBA.  “I believe he will be a tremendous team owner and a great addition to the city of Portland."  

 “I want to personally welcome Merritt and Heather to Portland,” said Portland Mayor Tom Potter before he left on an economic development trade mission to Bologna, Italy. “I was thrilled to learn of Merritt’s plans to purchase the teams, his enthusiasm to move here and settle into our community. We will all benefit from an active local owner who already has the interest of the city at heart.”

While Paulson will own a majority of the team, his father, Henry M. Paulson, will also have a percentage of ownership in the teams, due to his small minority interest in Shortstop, LLC. Henry Paulson’s interests do not involve any managerial or operational responsibilities in connection with Shortstop, LLC and Merritt is the majority owner. Henry Paulson is currently serving as the Secretary of the Treasury for the United States.

In addition to Paulson, Corey Busch adds to Paulson’s team as his advisor. Busch was Executive Vice President of the San Francisco Giants for 14 years and has worked closely with Paulson throughout the negotiation and purchase process. “I am fortunate that Corey will continue to be involved going forward as his counsel has proven to be an invaluable asset,” Paulson said.

The deal will be completed upon final approval from Major League Baseball, which is expected soon.

STATEMENT FROM BRANCH RICKEY, PRESIDENT - PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
“The PCL places a premium on leadership in the operation of our teams.  Minor League Baseball is a wonderful business because it becomes such a face of the community, because it is always refreshing and enhances, recreationally, the lives of those who come out to the park.  But, it is important that the right people manage our clubs.  We need not only capable business persons, but owners and operators who recognize a commitment to the fans, who go out and maintain a personal interface with corporate hierarchy, with merchants, with municipal leaders, with just regular loyal fans.

“Our review process causes us to believe that Merritt Paulson brings the kinds of skills and commitments necessary to make the Beavers an even more successful franchise in the future. He and his family have a reputation for accomplishment and fine character.  They are achievers and they bring the energy and resources to Portland along with a fresh perspective about going forward.  The Pacific Coast League has that kind of confidence in Merritt and his staff.  We believe this is a team which, with his leadership, is heading toward having a bright season in 2007 and even brighter seasons in coming years.”

STATEMENT FROM SANDY ALDERSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER - SAN DIEGO PADRES
"The relationship that has been forged between the Beavers and Padres over the past seven years has become a substantial one.  Both organizations are committed to ensuring affordable family entertainment for their fans and to making a difference in their respective communities. The Padres, under the direction of the Beavers, will continue to co-sponsor and help underwrite a number of community initiatives in the Portland area."

STATEMENT FROM TIM HOLT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT/CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER - UNITED SOCCER LEAGUES
"Today is an exciting day for United Soccer Leagues and we are pleased to welcome Shortstop, LLC into the USL family. It is clear to us that, under the leadership of Merritt Paulson and the rest of his ownership group, the Portland Timbers will continue to be one of the most successful and best supported franchises in not only the USL First Division (USL-1), but in all of American professional soccer. 

“Following closely behind PBIG and the Pacific Coast League during a period in which each played critical roles in the assurance of the current and future viability of the franchises and PGE Park, we firmly believe Shortstop LLC is well-prepared to bring a long-term ownership perspective for the franchise.

“Since their return to professional soccer in 2001, the Timbers have been a USL leader in player development, fan support, and game day operations/promotions. We expect that the future will bring more of the same whilst the Timbers continue to challenge for their first USL-1 Championship in what is an increasingly respected and important North American soccer competition.”