Ilitch Holdings names Chris McGowan new President & CEO of Sports + Entertainment

Detroit Free Press

There’s a new person in charge of the fan experience at Little Caesars Arena and other Ilitch-owned properties.

Chris McGowan comes to the area after nine years with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. His official title is president and chief executive officer of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment (IS+E), the business division of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, The District Detroit, Olympia Parking and the Ilitch joint venture (JV) interest in 313 Presents.

Wings general manager Steve Yzerman and Tigers GM Al Avila will continue to report to Christopher Ilitch.

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McGowan, who replaces Chris Granger, begins his new job Jan. 3. In a statement he described the opportunity as a thrill.

“It’s an exciting time for both the Red Wings and Tigers, and The District Detroit is a sports and entertainment epicenter unlike any other in the country,” McGowan said. “I look forward to getting started and helping bring memorable experiences to the great people of Detroit and beyond for years to come.”

Chris Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, lauded McGowan’s background — which in addition to serving as president/CEO of the Trail Blazers included serving in the same role for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks since 2018.

“He has a proven track record in professional sports and live entertainment, and a passion for creating exceptional experiences,” Ilitch said. “I look forward to working with Chris and his team to deliver innovative, engaging, and inspiring programming and campaigns that will appeal to our fans, colleagues, and partners.”

McGowan resigned from the Blazers in November, just before the team’s front office underwent a workplace misconduct investigation involving Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations. Olshey allegedly created a toxic workplace environment at the practice facility. He was fired Friday.

McGowan said his decision was unrelated to the investigation, according to Yahoo! Sports, and cited the ability to seek different employment opportunities.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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