“We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.”
Vice President Dan Quayle.

Surprise, surprise, the Portland Pirates are abandoning ship and heading for Springfield, Mass.

Actually, it’s sad to say, it should not have come as a surprise to anyone who looks at minor league sports teams and the financing around them. I have never believed that the Cumberland County Civic Center, now called the Cross Insurance Arena, was ever a good idea, since ultimately any deficit is backed up solely by the residents of Cumberland County who own property. Far too many of us are paying for something that we don’t go to, but others who don’t pay property taxes do.

What’s really a shame about the civic center is that I believe too many politicians with little business sense made the decisions that ultimately made it the albatross of the residents of Cumberland County. It’s in a lousy location where it should not have been if it was to truly benefit the county’s residents. All one has to do is look at where the Augusta Civic Center is located, along with those located in other municipalities. It should have started with easy access and lots of free parking all around it.

But perhaps the largest error was installing a board of trustees that may very well be decided by politicians and politics as well. I even read an editorial that proclaimed the board of trustees for the civic center was “dangerously disengaged” when it came to the Portland Pirates.

Remember, it was just a few short years ago that the board of trustees and the Cumberland County commissioners promoted a $34 million or so bond to renovate the civic center so that it could finally make a profit. It now looks like the vision was nothing but a mirage just as it was in the past. Judging by recent newspaper articles, I see that taxpayers now must pay something like $1.6 million in arrears for the center. Only God seems to know if we are paying for something else as well. Just like Amtrak, the train system heavily supported by taxpayers, it’s either time to get someone in government who can actually run things while making a profit, or it’s time to get rid of the problem altogether.

So I might as well get to the chase and say it’s time to give the civic center to the City of Portland along with, of course, all of the debt it presently has. Why do I state that? Look at the complaints from Mayor Strimling of Portland noting that he had no warning that the Pirates were leaving. When the civic center was first conceived it was promoted as benefiting all communities in Cumberland County. All I hear now is the City of Portland complaining about all of the business and money it will be losing. That’s one huge reason to make it the Portland Civic Center and let the citizens of that city decide what’s best for them, period.

It’s not like I have been to the civic center many times, because I haven’t. It’s not that I don’t want to spend the money, because I once spent hundreds of dollars on tickets so my wife could see and listen to her favorite singer really up close where it cost even more bucks. But if my tax dollars are paying for the building in the first place, please tell me why I should pay even more?

Maybe it’s an even better idea to sell it to an entrepreneur and let the place either make a profit or disappear. But if the civic center stays with Cumberland County, then all citizens need the right to vote on who is on the board of trustees and the Cumberland County budget as well.

I must add I agree with Al Diamon that county government needs to be abolished. I have often asked why does Maine have multiple levels of law enforcement and other redundancies as well?

Lane Hiltunen of Windham now thinks the giant sucking sound is increasing.


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