Paul Allen to buy back Rose Garden

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen said Friday he plans to repurchase the Rose Garden Arena, the home of the NBA team, after he gave up ownership in bankruptcy proceedings in 2004.

In a statement, Allen said his investment company, Vulcan Inc., has signed a letter with Portland Arena Management LLC to acquire the Rose Garden through an affiliate of Vulcan. The sale price was not disclosed.

The loss of revenue from luxury suites and other arena sources has contributed to financial problems for the Trail Blazers, causing Allen and his financial managers to describe the split ownership of the team and the arena as a broken financial model.

Team revenue had declined sharply in recent years, along with ticket sales.

"With this letter of intent, we've taken a positive step forward. Assuming this deal gets finalized, it will be a major milestone which will strengthen the long-term financial health of the Trail Blazers," Allen said in the statement.

Thomas Luther, chairman of Portland Arena Management, said in the release that the deal will "ensure that the Trail Blazers will remain in Portland."

"The team has long been an integral part of the community, and we believe this resolution benefits all interested parties," Luther said.

He also thanked NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league for their efforts in reaching the agreement.

Stern said "the ultimate winners here are the fans of the Portland Trail Blazers and the City of Portland."

Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp., built the Rose Garden without public money. But when the team's sister company, Oregon Arena Corp., declared bankruptcy in 2004, Allen chose to give up ownership rather than continue to pay interest on construction debt. 

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)