September 10, 2013

Businesses see losses if Pirates leave Portland

Even if the civic center profits more from other events, the team's absence would be felt, they say.

By J. Craig Anderson
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Dan Steele, owner of Brian Boru on Center Street, talks Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 about the potential that the Portland Pirates may not return to the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

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The Pirates' lawsuit has exacerbated an already tense relationship between the civic center and the team over key components of the proposed five-year lease.

In its lawsuit, the team seeks to prevent the civic center's trustees from breaking an unsigned, one-page resolution reached in April that called for the team to share in concessions and advertising revenue for the first time.

The trustees have said the resolution was only a framework for final negotiations, and that any formal agreement needs approval from the board.

The Pirates say in the lawsuit that the unsigned agreement is enforceable.

In April, the two sides tentatively agreed that the team would get 57.5 percent of net food and beverage sales, something that Pirates managing owner Brian Petrovek had sought for years.

The 57.5 percent would have worked out to about $8,000 a game, under a formula that assumed 3,250 fans spending $9 each and subtracted the costs of concessions, food preparation and state sales tax, Petrovek has said.

Under the previous lease, the Pirates received no revenue from concessions.

Civic center officials dispute the Pirates' claims about the value of the initial revenue-sharing agreement, but did not provide another figure.

The Portland Press Herald has filed a Freedom of Access request for concessions revenue figures from previous years.

An issue that arose from the agreement in April was the team's share of revenue from sales of alcohol.

State officials said that under state law the Pirates couldn't share the revenue from alcoholic beverages because the team is not the liquor licensee.

After further negotiations, the trustees gave the Pirates an alternative arrangement last month in a 33-page lease offer that included 65 percent of food and non-alcoholic beverage sales.

Petrovek rejected that offer, saying it would not offset the team's loss of alcohol sales, which he said could exceed the total revenue from food sales.

Under other terms of the proposed contract, the Pirates were to get revenue from selling some of the on-ice space for advertising and splitting sales of advertising in most of the rest of the arena.

The Pirates would pay the civic center $1,000 a game, instead of the $2,500 they paid previously. Under the previous lease, the Pirates received a $2,000-per-game rebate because of projected operating losses.

The Pirates have asked the court for an expedited hearing on their lawsuit.

If a deal cannot be worked out, Binga's bartender Jeff Ellis said he is certain that the absence of hockey games across the street at the civic center will hurt him and his co-workers.

"It's going to be a tremendous impact," Ellis said. "Those are big nights for us."


J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

Twitter: @jcraiganderson


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Additional Photos

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Paul Zamierowski, a customer at Brian Boru and a fan of the Portland Pirates, talks about the potential that the Pirates may not return to the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Jeff Ellis, bartender at Binga's Wingas on Free Street, said that if the Portland Pirates were not to return to the Cumberland County Civic Center, it would negatively impact the restaurant's business.

Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer


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