When the Portland Pirates left Maine in 2016, the minor-league hockey franchise had to pay Cumberland County a penalty of $100,000 for breaking its lease with Cross Insurance Arena.

The Maine Mammoths, who announced Tuesday that they were suspending operations after one season of National Arena League football in Portland, owe nothing for breaking their lease.

“This lease does not have penalty language,” said Jim Gailey, Cumberland County manager. “The Mammoths have paid in full. They don’t owe us anything.”

The Mammoths played eight home dates in Portland between April and August. After losing six of their first seven games, they finished with a 7-8 record but missed the four-team playoffs. They were fifth in a league of six teams that has since expanded, with new franchises in Orlando and New York.

Gailey said the team, co-owned by Rob Storm and Richard Maslia as National Sports Ventures, the corporation that also owns the NAL Carolina Cobras, informed him Tuesday morning of the decision not to play this season. Local ownership was always the goal, first stated during the team’s introductory news conference in December 2017 by the league’s expansion chair, Jeff Bouchy.

“They’re feeling as though, to get the right buyer, they need to hit the pause button,” Gailey said. “Hopefully that is for the betterment of the team, and an ownership group can be found in our region and we bring arena football back to Portland in 2020.”

The three-year lease stipulated a $5,000 payment per game as rent from the team to the Global Spectrum, which manages the building for the county. Gailey said dates had been set aside for this year’s NAL schedule, but those dates can now be marketed to other interested parties. Gailey said a $50,000 letter of credit specified in the three-year lease was in place only to safeguard against the team owing the county money.

Attendance peaked at 3,713 for the home opener last April but dwindled to 1,472 for the finale in August.

DeShawn Byrd, an offensive lineman who remained in Portland after the season, working such jobs as a security guard and sporting goods clerk, said he was one of five players to stick around town through the winter. He said training camp was to have begun in late March.

“It was disappointing,” he said. “I didn’t think it would come to this. But it’s not really a surprise because it is arena football.”

Linebacker Niko Sierra, who at 27 is a year older than Byrd, said he’s been in contact with a few teams, but isn’t sure if he will continue to play.

“I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “Bills keep coming. We shall see.”

As for his one season playing in Portland, Sierra said, “Everybody enjoyed it. The city was great. The fans were even greater. It’s a sad day for last year’s team, and all the fans as well. I know there were a lot of guys excited to come back.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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Twitter: GlennJordanPPH


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