With Cumberland County Civic Center lease in jeopardy, Portland Pirates eye Lewiston
PORTLAND — As the Portland Pirates hockey team considered vacating home ice at the the Cumberland County Civic Center, the arena's board of trustees on Tuesday afternoon called a special meeting for Wednesday morning to address the team's lease.
"The issue on the agenda is simply the Pirates," Steve Crane, the Civic Center general manager, said. He would not provide more detail or say if the board will take action at the meeting.
Neither Neal Pratt, chairman of the Civic Center trustees, nor Pirates managing owner Brian Petrovek could be reached for comment by early afternoon Tuesday.
The Wednesday morning meeting comes after the Pirates and the Civic Center deadlocked last week in an attempt to finalize the lease.
If terms aren't worked out before Thursday, Pirates managing owner Brian Petrovek said at an Aug. 30 press conference, the team may consider playing games at another venue, such as The Colisee in Lewiston.
"If Wednesday comes and goes, we have no alternative but to look at other options because of the damages that we could experience if we cannot play (at the Civic Center)," Petrovek said. "Lewiston is obviously the first place we'd look at."
The team's American Hockey League season begins in October. The Pirates are already scheduled to play 13 home games at the Lewiston arena while the ongoing $33 million renovation of the Civic Center is completed.
It's not clear whether The Colisee would be available for additional Pirates games.
At the press conference, Petrovek said the Pirates did not sign the lease by an Aug. 29 deadline because "the document was not consistent with deal terms that were agreed to by the (Civic Center) trustees and by us on April 17."
In April, the Pirates and the Civic Center had worked out an agreement that called for the team to play at the arena for another five years, with the potential of a five-year extension.
For the first time since the team began in 1993, the Pirates would receive a share – 57.5 percent – of the net profits from concession sales during home games.
That was one of several terms that became a sticking point after the Pirates received a "final" draft of the lease last week, Petrovek said.
The formula for dividing concession sales had to be recalculated because of state law that forbids the Pirates, without a liquor license, from receiving proceeds of alcoholic beverage sales. Petrovek said the new formula, which would give the Pirates a 65 percent share of food sales, isn't an "equivalent equation that gives us the same amount."
The Pirates have had a sometimes-stormy relationship with the Civic Center. The team threatened to move to Albany, N.Y., in 2010, during negotiations of the previous lease. And the April agreement came after months of talks that even involved the subject of the renovation itself.
Because of the Pirates' post-season games at the Civic Center, the start of the project's massive second phase had to be postponed from April to June.