Trail Blazers Come to Portland
Despite being best known for its work in corporate and business law, Tonkon Torp has played a long and important role in bringing professional sports to Oregon. Most notably, Tonkon attorneys were key figures in bringing the Trail Blazers and the NBA to Portland in 1970.
Tonkon Torp founder Moe Tonkon was the long-time attorney for Harry Glickman, the father of professional sports in Oregon. Harry and Moe were involved in getting the 1954 bond passed for Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and Moe served as Secretary for the Portland Buckaroos, the Western Hockey League franchise owned by Harry. As Harry pursued his dream to bring the NBA to Portland, Moe helped him convene the consortium of heavy hitters who secured the Trail Blazers franchise in 1970. From their founding days onward, the Portland Trail Blazers continued their relationship with Tonkon Torp, with significant legal worked being managed by Morris Galen. When Owen Blank returned to Tonkon Torp in 1977, he focused on media and insurance matters for the team while Morris worked on players contracts and facilities. Eventually, Morris and Owen led the 1988 sale of the Trail Blazers franchise to Paul Allen.
Owen’s work with the Trail Blazers, and contacts he made through the relationship, would lead him to work with two other NBA teams as well as several executives, coaches, and players in the NBA and executives in MLB and the NHL. Owen was also involved in helping client Portland Family Entertainment bring AAA baseball (Portland Beavers) and A-League soccer (USL Timbers) back to Portland in 2001.