September 12, 2013

Parent club of Pirates monitoring court case

The Phoenix Coyotes would like the lease dispute with the Cumberland County Civic Center resolved sooner rather than later.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Officials with the parent club of the Portland Pirates said Thursday they are monitoring the ongoing lease dispute between the Pirates and the Cumberland County Civic Center, confirming concerns that the disagreement has the potential to hurt the Phoenix-Portland partnership.

click image to enlarge

Brian Petrovek

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Neal Pratt, chairman of the Cumberland County Civic Center Trustees

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

In an affidavit filed with the Pirates lawsuit, managing owner Brian Petrovek said the dispute over the lease "seriously harms" the teams' working agreement and "there is a very real possibility that the Coyotes could terminate our relationship with them."

"Obviously, when we went to Portland it was to play in Portland," Phoenix Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving said Thursday.

The Phoenix Coyotes opened training camp for the upcoming season in Glendale, Ariz., and team officials said they're monitoring the situation with their farm club.

"I'm not going to comment on what's happening there, but we're aware of the situation and we're kind of monitoring," Treliving said. "We'd like to have it resolved sooner rather than later."

The Pirates and civic center officials are fighting over a lease for the American Hockey League team, with the Pirates saying the outlines of a deal struck in April should be enforced and Civic Center officials saying that plan had several significant loose ends and was never completed or signed.

The dispute has moved to court, with the Pirates asking Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Humphrey to order the civic center to honor the lease and allow the Pirates to play in the arena when it reopens in January after a $34 million renovation.

Because of the renovation project at the civic center, the Pirates are scheduled to play their first 13 home games of the season in Lewiston.

"We can live with that in the short term," Treliving said.

Although the two sides met with Humphrey for more than eight hours in a closed-door settlement conference Wednesday, no hearings were scheduled for Thursday or Friday, according to a clerk for the Cumberland County Business Court. The session is similar to mediation and the judge encourages the parties to find a solution before the case moves to trial.

Neither side would comment about whether any progress was made.

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

emurphy@pressherald.com

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