September 17, 2013

Civic Center board wraps up closed-door meeting

The board's chairman declined to comment on the meeting, which ran more than three hours.

By Edward D. Murphy
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — The Cumberland County Civic Center board spent Tuesday morning discussing the status of its lease dispute with the Portland Pirates, but its chairman wouldn't say if any progress has been made.

The board met behind closed doors, citing a section of the state's freedom of information laws that allows it to get advice from its lawyer in executive session.

Neal Pratt, the board's chair, also noted a judge's order against discussing the case outside of court. Pratt declined to comment after the board meeting, which ran more than three hours. 

The American Hockey League Pirates filed suit two weeks ago, asking a judge to order the Civic Center to abide by the terms of a lease outline announced in April. The board has countered by saying the announcement contained some terms of a deal, but it also called for further negotiations and was never signed.

The two sides met with Cumberland Country Superior Court Judge Thomas Humphrey last week, to see if they could reach an agreement to avoid a trial on the Pirates suit. Neither side would discuss the talks and a clerk with the Cumberland County Business Court said no hearings in the case are currently scheduled.

The Pirates want to play in the arena when it reopens in January following a $34 million renovation.

The Civic Center sent a final lease proposal to the team in late August, but the two sides haven't reached an agreement on the terms of a plan to split revenue from concessions and whether the team can share in the proceeds of the sale of "sub-naming" rights for areas inside the arena, such as the rink and luxury suites.

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