The Seattle Seahawks lost arguably the most important person in franchise history on Monday with the news that owner Paul Allen had died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, just two weeks after he announced that he was ready and hopeful for his second bout against cancer. Allen was 65, having purchased the Seahawks in 1996 when he was only 43, which was 24 years after he started his first company with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Allen next enrolled at Washington State University, dropping out after two years to take a job at Honeywell in Boston, which was near Gates at Harvard. Gates eventually dropped out too and soon enough the pair would be back in Seattle, changing history with Microsoft, a name that Allen came up with.
Allen’s roots in Washington run deep and are dramatically important to many folks in the Pacific Northwest, one of which of course is the future of two of his most high-profile business dealings: the Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA. Having already been tested by cancer in 2009 (and I’m sure just by way of being one of the richest people in the world), Allen of course had plans in place for his businesses and financial holdings. According to the Twitter account Sports Business Radio, Allen, who has no children, might not have anyone to leave the teams to within the family, as his sister Jody reportedly is not interested in owning the Seahawks or Blazers. That means that the teams could be sold.
There has been a plan in place for the Blazers and Seahawks for a couple of years in the event of Paul Allen's death. Paul's sister Jody does not want to own either team according to my sources. So look for both teams to be sold by Allen's estate.— SportsBusinessRadio (@SBRadio) October 15, 2018
I must say that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of Sports Business Radio but there appear to be validity to the claims. Account holder Brian Berger says he worked for Allen for six years with the Portland Trailblazers and posted an interview he did with Allen a few years ago.
#PaulAllen didn't do many interviews in person. He preferred email. But he did sit down with me a few years ago. Here's that conversation. He'll be remembered for his space exploration, passion for music & brain institute as much as sports. https://t.co/yOBBj0RfWj— SportsBusinessRadio (@SBRadio) October 15, 2018
As my listeners know, I worked for @PaulGAllen & @trailblazers for 6 + years. If it weren't for Allen, the Blazers would have moved in the mid-90's to another city. He's known for saving the @Seahawks in Seattle, but he also saved the @trailblazers in Portland.— SportsBusinessRadio (@SBRadio) October 15, 2018
Berger believes that there’s almost no chance the teams will move cities and that the NFL and NBA probably already had a short list of names to be considered in both cases. The Blazers have a lease that runs through 2025, while the Seahawks are one of the most successful and popular home franchises in the NFL.
New ownership is not something the Seahawks have had to worry about for over 20 years thanks to Allen saving the team from moving to Los Angeles two decades ago. We had no idea how good of an owner the team was getting — even if you know that a person’s intentions are great, you can’t know if they’ll be good at the job — but Allen turned out to be a legendary owner who wanted incredible minds like Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll to run the show how they wanted to run the show, both of which turned into amazing hires.
The next owner can’t be compared to Allen, but if that person is as thoughtful with the same amount of humility as Allen, they’ll be in great hands again.
Update: John Canzano reports for The Oregonian that Jody Allen is a Seahawks fan and that she could emerge as a presence in the organization, per his sources