August 31, 2013

Civic Center, Pirates in standoff over concessions

The team fails to sign a five-year lease by Thursday's deadline. Trustees say they will look for new tenants.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

Trustees of the Cumberland County Civic Center said Friday that they will start looking for new tenants, after the Portland Pirates refused to sign a proposed lease agreement because of a dispute over concession revenues.

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Construction improvements are seen under way at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland in this aerial photograph earlier this month. Many of the renovations are geared toward improving conditions for the Portland Pirates.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

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"It disappoints us that we even have to do that, but we have to look at parallel paths," Petrovek said. "Lewiston is the first place we'd obviously look at."

Officials of the Colisee could not be reached for comment Friday.

"If we are forced to look at a different place to play, that could mean damages," Petrovek said.

Pratt said the county-owned Civic Center has no requirement to have the hockey team as a tenant, and "I think the Civic Center very carefully observed all of its legal obligations."

The Civic Center does not make money on the Pirates, Pratt said. If the Pirates left, it would actually reduce the arena's expenses.

"A lot of people may say that, financially, you're better off without a hockey team," Pratt said. "There are people who think you bring in a few concerts a year -- you'll get profit-making events."

The Civic Center has concert seating for 8,000 people.

Petrovek said the Civic Center may try to fill the arena with other tenants, but it would be difficult to replace the hockey team.

"They think they can go out and get six events and that will work," Petrovek said. "We want to fulfill our obligation to our fans and taxpayers."

The renovation of the Civic Center was approved by the county's voters in 2011.

Petrovek said the Pirates' National Hockey League affiliate, the Phoenix Coyotes, knows of the standoff with the Civic Center.

"They have our back, but they expect us to play here as soon as the building opens," Petrovek said.

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

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