Merritt Paulson is the Owner and President of the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer (MLS).
Named to Sports Business Journal’s exclusive “Forty Under 40” class of 2011 and 2012, and now a Hall-of-Famer with a third such honor in 2013, Paulson’s diligent efforts – an arduous process that began in 2008 – to bring a second major league sports franchise to Portland, Oregon, 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 sold out all of their regular-season home games to date over two-plus seasons, have developed award-winning marketing campaigns and community outreach programs and transformed the region’s sporting landscape by creating one of the most authentic and exciting in-game experiences in sports.
In each of the past two seasons, the Timbers achieved more than a 97 percent renewal rate on season tickets and quickly reached their expanded cap of 15,250 season tickets available for 2013. Additionally, the team has a Season Ticket Waiting List that numbers more than 7,500 fans.
With a successful inaugural MLS campaign both on and off the field, Paulson was awarded the Slats Gill Award for Sportsperson of the Year for 2011 by the Oregon Sports Awards. With the honor, he 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.
Before assuming ownership of the team in 2007, Paulson was an executive at NBA Entertainment in New York, where he helped launch and develop NBA-TV and had responsibility for both marketing and business development efforts of NBA-TV and NBA LEAGUE PASS. He first moved to New York to join HBO on Demand and was part of the team that launched the first premium subscription video on-demand service.
Paulson graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in English and earned his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
From a personal standpoint, Paulson, his wife and two daughters are thrilled to live in the Portland area and are passionate outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to serving on the board of directors for Panthera, Paulson also is on the boards of the Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Oregon Sports Authority.