PORTLAND – A task force studying possibilities for renovating the Cumberland County Civic Center is expected to get a report in the next few weeks that will help the group prepare a road map for the arena’s future.

The task force met Wednesday with consultants it hired to look at a potential renovation of the 33-year-old arena. The consultants’ final report is expected “in a couple of weeks,” said Neal Pratt, chairman of the civic center’s board of trustees.

Pratt said Wednesday’s meeting was an update on the scope of the report, which is being prepared by the consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey.

Pratt has said the arena must be renovated to meet modern standards for everything from luxury boxes and premium seating to the loading dock, amenities for artists and the box office.

The report is expected to help the task force, and then the trustees, decide how much work they want to take on, prepare cost estimates, determine whether the upgrades will generate more revenue, and then explain the proposal to the public.

Voters will decide on any bonds proposed for the renovation.

The process is on track to get the issue to voters in November 2011, Pratt said.

In many ways, the consultants’ report is a market analysis, he said. For instance, it will help determine the market for luxury seats, assess how much people might be willing to pay for them, and form assumptions on the potential payback for installing the seats.

Steve Crane, the civic center’s general manager, said the arena is missing out on some acts because its seating capacity of about 9,000 for concerts is well below that of other venues in New England.

“When (acts) are only playing 30 or 40 shows, they’re going to go where they can sell the maximum number of tickets,” he said. “The (civic center) isn’t big enough, and that really determines the acts that we get here.”

Crane said a promoter for an upcoming tour for the singer Justin Bieber called recently, looking for information on the civic center, and lost interest when told how many tickets could be sold.

Also, the civic center couldn’t accommodate a performance by the Cirque du Soleil troupe because the arena’s ceiling is too low.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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