PORTLAND — The Portland Pirates and the Cumberland County Civic Center are extending their recently expired lease agreement by a year, and will soon discuss a longer-term deal for the hockey team to play in the renovated arena.

Pirates owner Brian Petrovek said the extension of the lease that expired April 30 includes provisions to begin negotiating a long-term deal as details of the multimillion-dollar renovation are nailed down.

“We’re fast-tracking this process,” said Petrovek. “I’m no longer in the mind-set of short-term leases.”

Petrovek and the Civic Center signed a two-year lease in 2010 after a contentious period of negotiations that had Petrovek close to moving the team to Albany, N.Y., which was losing its American Hockey League team.

Petrovek wanted a 10-year lease and revenue sharing. Instead, the deal cut the per-game rent from $2,500 to $1,500 and included rebates for hitting certain attendance levels, but did not include revenue sharing.

Once the renovation is complete, the county-owned arena will have premium seating and amenities for season-ticket holders. Neal Pratt, chairman of the Civic Center’s trustees, said that will require a lease for the Pirates that covers a new degree of revenue-sharing.

But until the renovation plan is far enough along to specify the number and type of premium seats and other amenities, the trustees and the team can’t figure out how to split the revenue, Pratt said.

The committee that’s overseeing the renovation is developing a list of priorities for the project. Pratt said that will go a long way toward answering the questions.

He said the first rough estimates of the cost of the work came in around $35 million, well above the construction budget of about $28 million. He said that was expected because the list of components of the project that was used to develop the estimate included some that aren’t really needed.

Pratt said the committee will use its list of priorities to pare the costs and get them in line with the budget.

The project also includes about $5 million in “soft costs,” such as professional fees, that bring the total cost of the renovation to $33 million, the amount approved by Cumberland County voters last fall.

Jon Dicentes, a senior manager for Cianbro Corp., which is managing the construction job for the county, said it’s not unusual for a project to be “over budget” at this point.

“You just don’t know where you are until you do the first round of pricing,” he said.

Dicentes said he’s working on that first round now, developing a more precise estimate for the building committee’s meeting next week. Once more detailed prices can be developed for specific parts of the renovation, he said, the committee can decide what to keep and what to jettison.

Pratt said the project is still on schedule, with work to get under way in late June, after the last scheduled concert in the building.

Construction and renovation will continue around hockey games and other events this fall into next spring, then the arena will be shut down after the Pirates wrap up their 2012-13 season for the final round of work.

The goal is to have the work finished by October 2013, in time for the Pirates’ 2013-14 season.


Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]