November 29, 2013

City leaders to trustees: Renew talks with Pirates

After years of difficult negotiations, officials worry the civic center board is ready to move on, even though losing the team hurts businesses.

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

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

The Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

The two sides have since been unable to agree on a formula to split sales of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

“When you don’t sit down face-to-face, it’s a lot harder to understand what’s going on beyond what’s on a piece of paper,” Cohen said.

But Pratt said dozens of emails in the summer and court-ordered mediation this fall failed to resolve the issues.

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan also has encouraged the Pirates and trustees to start talking again, but noted that the trustees – who are appointed by the Cumberland County commissioners – can’t be compelled to do anything.

Although he said he plans to call the trustees again to see what might get them back to the table, “I don’t know what that wedge point is right now.”

NEUTRALITY MAY NOT ENDURE

Becker said the executive committee of the Portland Community Chamber will meet Monday to discuss its next steps. He said the panel will probably gather economic data to show what the impact on businesses would be if Portland lost the Pirates.

He said the group also will try to gather information to determine whether the civic center can earn enough from other events to avoid shifting more of the cost of paying back the renovation bond to taxpayers.

“We’re not siding with one side over the other,” Becker said, although Hall said the organizations might not remain neutral forever.

“It’s easy to just want to take sides and say, ‘That’s the good guy and that’s the bad guy,’ ” Hall said, but an examination of the standoff’s economic impact could influence opinions in the future.

“Could that involve somebody taking sides? Yeah, it could,” he said.

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

emurphy@pressherald.com

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