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Cumberland County Civic Center renovations to begin in Portland

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Cumberland County Civic Center renovations to begin in Portland

PORTLAND — Major renovations of the Cumberland County Civic Center get started this week, with the official groundbreaking scheduled for Wednesday.

Plans call for modernizing the 35-year-old building, which is on the outskirts of the Old Port and hosts concerts, shows, conferences and the Portland Pirates professional hockey team.

Improvements for the arena will include new seats and wheelchair-accessible seating; additional restrooms and concourse space; club seating; a new loading dock, and changes to the backstage areas and external facade. There will be approximately the same number of seats after the renovations as there are now – 7,500 for concerts, 6,800 fixed.

The project will begin with work on the Center Street side of the building, where a new entrance will replace the precipitous "suicide stairs" at the corner with Spring Street.

Final design plans were scheduled to be presented at the groundbreaking ceremony, led by Civic Center Board of Trustees Chairman Neal Pratt.

Last November, Cumberland County voters approved a $33 million bond to fund the renovations. The project is expected to be completed in September 2013.