Portland Thorns Appoint Alexis Lee President of Business Operations

The NWSL’s Portland Thorns have appointed Alexis Lee as their president of business operations.

The Oregon native is the first Thorns-specific executive business hire since the club split from MLS’ Portland Timbers and was sold to the Bhathal family, who are also investors in the Sacramento Kings. The family bought the Thorns in January for $63 million.

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Lee will be responsible for building the team’s front office, and her role will oversee everything from marketing, ticketing and sponsorship sales, and community relations to finance, legal and human resources. Lee, along with Karina LeBlanc, the Thorns’ general manager and president of soccer operations, will report to governor Lisa Bhathal Merage.

“Alexis embodies our shared vision for the club’s culture, which will guide our future hiring practices,” Bhathal Merage said in a statement. “We’re excited about the positive impact her experience and local roots in the community will bring to our organization.”

Through her career, Lee has led teams in professional sports, live entertainment, and arts and culture. Most recently, she served as the senior vice president and CMO for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment in Detroit, where she led marketing functions for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers.

With this appointment Lee returns to the Portland sports scene, where she spent nearly a decade with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter entertainment complex as a marketing executive in various leadership positions.

“I look forward to contributing to the organization’s growth, aiming to elevate it to be the No. 1 women’s sports club globally by championing an inclusive business model aligned with the values of the Portland community,” Lee said in a statement. “Joining a cherished organization as the Portland Thorns is a dream realized.”

The Thorns will begin the 2024 NWSL regular season on March 16 against the Kansas City Current at CPKC Stadium before returning to Providence Park on March 24 for their home opener against NJ/NY Gotham FC.

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