PORTLAND – Members of a task force agree that some renovations — including upgrades to the loading dock and stage areas, concession stands and restrooms — must be made for the Cumberland County Civic Center to retain its lineup of events and its flagship tenant, the Portland Pirates hockey team.

They also agree that a renovated civic center should serve as only a temporary solution, and that a new arena will have to be built, likely within about 15 years.

So, what other renovations should be done to the building, beyond the basics?

That was the topic of discussion Thursday as task force members met at the civic center with consultants from Brailsford & Dunlavey and The Goldwater Group.

The seven-member task force consists of county and city officials, members of the civic center’s board of trustees, and Pirates owner Brian Petrovek. Board Chairman Neal Pratt said the task force hopes to deliver a formal recommendation to the trustees within a few months. Voters could be asked to approve a bond in November 2011 to pay for the work.

The task force hired the consulting firms to assess the arena’s operations and work on estimates of costs and revenue that can be expected if it is renovated.

Jason Thompson of Brailsford & Dunlavey told the group that he would not try to add seats in the arena. Instead, he has suggested a change in the mix of seats.

adding as many as 500 “club seats,” the civic center could increase revenue by about $700,000 a year, Thompson said. At a cost of about $1.3 million, that means the club seats would essentially pay for themselves in two years.

Club seats are a step between luxury suites and general admission seating. They offer more space than general admission seating, and usually are sold with access to amenities such as special menus.

The sale of arena naming rights, and the creation of a prominent marquee, could bring in about $200,000 a year, the consultants said.

“This renovation really needs to be viewed as a bridge,” said Bobby Goldwater of The Goldwater Group. “There’s only so much you can do with a building of a certain age.”

The task force asked the consultants to prepare cost and revenue estimates for three scenarios, ranging from the most basic to the most elaborate. They expect to discuss those scenarios at their next meeting. A date has not been set. 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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