PORTLAND — The Cumberland County Civic Center may get a face-life if voters approve a bond issue likely to appear on the November ballot.
The Civic Center Building Committee has been working with Portland architecture firm SMRT Architects on a plan to renovate the 35-year-old Civic Center, home of the Portland Pirates.
At a building committee meeting Tuesday morning, the renovation was estimated to cost $33 million.
Discussions centered around required upgrades, such as Americans with Disabilities Act-mandated wheelchair-accessible seating; replacement of all the facility’s seats; and improvements that would help attract performers, such as more vendor space, more women’s restrooms and higher-priced exclusive seating.
“They’ve been addressing ways to make the Civic Center more attractive to acts, and to the Pirates,” Cumberland County Manager Peter Crichton said.
One of the things the committee is addressing is the Pirates’ request for premium seating, which the team could sell to businesses that use the seats to treat clients and business partners, Crichton said.
Current plans include a $2.4 million Captains Club at the southwest corner of the building, with private access and upgraded seats.
The building committee initially considered a proposal to add up to 120 loge seats, which would include a refrigerator every three seats, counter space and more of a club atmosphere, but that would have required a net loss of up to 80 standard seats.
The Captains Club would result in fewer lost standard seats and could potentially remove up to 500 hockey fans from the concourse during games.
The premium seats could be a way to generate revenue to help offset some of the renovations, Crichton said.
Renovation plans also include updates to the visiting team lockers and changing room facilities.
When asked if he was concerned about the Pirates’ devotion to staying in Portland, after rumors circulated last year the team might leave the area, Crichton said the renovations are important regardless of the team that uses the facility.
“No matter who we have as a team, there’s going to be this kind of situation going on,” Crichton said. “The Pirates are looking at their bottom line and wanting to make enough to support their team, but we recognize this is a public facility.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, Pirates owner Brian Petrovek estimated each loge seat would have generated $2,500. But other building committee members were concerned about the Civic Center’s ability to sell those seats for other events.
The building committee also discussed earlier proposals to expand the loading dock area on Center Street, so events could get in and out of the building faster.
“This loading dock in its current condition does not seem to impact our ability to attract events,” Civic Center board Chairman Neal Pratt said.
Including the loading dock would cost an estimated $1.75 million.
Architect Paul Stevens said the loading dock could be included later, if bids come in lower than expected, or completed at another time without having a negative impact on day-to-day operations of the Civic Center.
“In terms of dealing with the city of Portland, that’s the most complicated piece,” Stevens said. “That dialog hasn’t happened yet.”
The committee and architects will be holding a series of public hearings around the county to get feedback about what the public would like to see in the renovations.
Meetings will be held July 18 at 6 p.m. at the broadcast studio adjacent to Jordan Small School in Raymond; July 21 at 6 p.m. at the Freeport Town Hall; and July 26 at 6 p.m. at Scarborough Town Hall.
The building committee will meet again after the public hearings and make its recommendation to the County Commissioners, who will decide the final wording of the bond referendum that will go to voters in November.