PORTLAND – The owner of the Portland Pirates will meet with the chairman of the Cumberland County Civic Center trustees early next week to discuss the possibility of the Pirates funding some of the civic center’s proposed $30-million-plus renovations.

In exchange, Pirates owner Brian Petrovek said he’s interested in landing the Pirates a long-term lease — and getting a larger cut of advertisement, concessions or other revenues.

“We’ve expressed an interest and a desire to have a long-term relationship with this building, and to make an investment in this building,” Petrovek said. “But to invest … it requires capital — a long-term commitment — and it remains to be seen if that’s within the appetite of both parties.”

The two decided to meet after the 30-member building committee tried and failed Wednesday to agree on how much money — somewhere between $30 million and $33 million — to seek in a bond proposal to renovate the 34-year-old downtown venue. If the Pirates help fund the renovations, that reduces the burden on taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the civic center trustees have formally offered to extend the Pirates’ current lease — which expires in April 2012 — through April 2014. Neal Pratt, chairman of the civic center’s eight trustees, said it doesn’t make sense to negotiate a long-term lease until the issue of renovations has been settled.

Without knowing if voters will approve the renovations, the trustees don’t know how many seats, concession stands or advertisement space the building will have. Because of that, it’s “nearly impossible” to divvy up future revenues, he said.

“We want to keep the Pirates here for a long, long time,” Pratt said. “But the pie’s not done, so it’s hard to determine how to properly slice it up while still protecting the taxpayers.”

The two-year lease extension, Pratt said, would give them time to work out the question about renovations.

The current lease is a complex web of financial stipulations — some of which benefit the Pirates, and some of which benefit the county.

For example, the Pirates pay $20,000 per year for rights to a significant amount of advertisement space at the civic center. That likely generates more than $1 million in revenue, said Steve Crane, the facility’s general manager.

The Pirates also get a cut of parking in the Spring Street garage, and financial rewards when they attract more than 3,500 people to a weekday game, 4,000 to a weekend game or 125,000 people during the entire 40-game home season.

But the team gets no percentage of concession sales, which are one of the largest revenue-generators in sports. The team also pays for all game-day personnel such as ticket-takers, cashiers, security and ushers — which can add up quickly.

Pratt said he wants to make sure any agreement reached with the team does not hurt taxpayers in the long run.

The civic center lost about $137,000 last year, but has made money six of the past eight years, according to county financial documents.

Those numbers don’t include about $736,000 that the county has spent on civic center capital improvements during the same time period.

Petrovek said the team’s ability to land a long-term lease is important to his business’s success.

“It’s not a good business model to keep making decisions based on short-term time pressures,” he said. “If we know we’re going to be around for the next 25 years, we can make investments based on that stability.”

The proposed renovations include improving the restrooms and loading docks, making the civic center handicapped-accessible, increasing the number of concessions, making electrical upgrades and expanding the concourse space to make walking around easier.

The plan, however, likely won’t include loge boxes or new offices for the Pirates, both of which the hockey organization sought.

Petrovek disagreed with Pratt about “not knowing the shape of the pie.” Several analysts working with the civic center have given revenue projections based on the proposed renovations, he said.

But Petrovek said the two sides won’t publicly discuss any details of a Pirates proposal — or any details regarding a potential new lease — unless the two sides complete an agreement.

“Negotiating through the media can sometimes cloud things,” Petrovek said. “I’m committed to getting this done, and I know Neal’s committed. … Finding a way for both of us to be financially stable for at least the next decade and beyond is definitely a challenge, but I think we’re up to it.”

Other trustees declined to comment. Several of them referred all questions to Pratt, whom the trustees have authorized to speak on their behalf.

If the Pirates fund some of the renovations, a smaller bond proposal could be sent to voters in November.

Even without funding from the Pirates, the improvements wouldn’t necessarily raise taxes. Because the county recently finished paying off $2.1 million per year of debt for the county jail, it can take on some new debt without affecting tax rates. With interest rates around 4 percent, a $30 million project with a 30-year bond would likely cost about $2 million in yearly debt payments.

The two sides have limited time to reach a deal. The trustees are scheduled to meet Wednesday to choose which renovation proposal they prefer. The county commissioners will then vote Aug. 8 on whether to send a bond referendum to voters in November to fund those renovations.

Although the trustees don’t believe it’s the right time to negotiate a long-term lease, Pratt said there’s no proposal they won’t listen to.

“We’re very open-minded,” Pratt said. “If their proposal is something that makes sense, we’ll consider it.”

Jason Singer can be reached at 791-6437 or:

[email protected]