Henry Merritt Paulson III is the majority owner of Peregrine Sports, LLC which owns the Portland Timbers, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team, and the Portland Thorns, a National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) team, both based in Portland, Oregon. He is primarily known by the name Merritt Paulson.
Merritt Paulson's father is Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson Jr., an American banker who served as the 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury, and was formerly Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. His mother is Wendy (née Judge) Paulson.
In anticipation of acquiring sports franchises, Paulson formed Shortstop, LLC, which was organized as a Delaware entity. In May 2007 Paulson's investment group, Shortstop, purchased the Portland Beavers and the Portland Timbers from California businessman Abe Alizadeh. The purchase made Shortstop the Beavers' fourth owners since 2001. Hank Paulson, Merritt Paulson's father, was a minority partner in the company. The Portland Beavers played the 2007-2010 seasons under the ownership and management of Paulson's Shortstop organization.
In 2010, Paulson sold the Portland Beavers, to focus on soccer. Paulson and his advisors moved ahead with plans to remodel PGE Park. The stadium was remodeled into a soccer-and-football only configuration for the MLS's 2011 expansion Portland Timbers. That meant that there was no longer a stadium facility in Portland for the Beavers to play on the AAA baseball level.
For the all-new soccer venture, Paulson organized another company, Peregrine Sports LLC. In 2009, the city of Portland and the Merritt Paulson-led Peregrine were awarded a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise for 2011, named the Portland Timbers. The Portland City Council approved a $31 million agreement to renovate PGE Park as a soccer- and football-specific stadium. Naming rights were sold for the stadium. After cost overruns, the renovations totaling $40 million were complete. The former PGE Park became Jeld-Wen Field now known as Providence Park.
A new women's national soccer league was created for the 2013 season. Paulson was the only MLS team owner to decide to also support a women's team in their new league. That team was named the Portland Thorns, who has US Women's National Soccer team players Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett, Adrianna Franch, and Canadian Women's National Soccer team player Christine Sinclair on the roster.