The good news from concert and event promoters is that despite its physical drawbacks, the Cumberland County Civic Center attracts a big enough audience to bring in top quality entertainment.

The bad news is that because of the physical drawbacks, those acts don’t want to come here.

The county is nearing a decision on what to do with the aging facility on Free Street, and the answer shouldn’t be “nothing.”

The center was built to the standards of its day back in the 1970s, but it can’t offer acts the “back of the house” infrastructure that producers are demanding for more elaborate productions. That not only means that new acts will keep bypassing Portland for the nearby venues that meet their standards, but familiar names that have been regular visitors to Portland in the past will stop coming as stage shows grow more elaborate.

A task force looking into the arena’s future is considering three ranges of improvements, from “conservative” to “aggressive,” and plans to go to the voters for a bond issue as soon as this November.

We need more information to know which approach makes the most sense, but something should be done to keep the civic center as a healthy venue in the heart of Portland.

Any proposal should call for improvements to the backstage features and audience amenities that are thorough enough to last a long time.

We look forward to seeing detailed plans of what the task force recommends to bring this important regional facility up to date.


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