Voters approve $33M Cumberland County Civic Center bond

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PORTLAND — Voters strongly supported a $33 million bond to renovate the Cumberland County Civic Center in a referendum Tuesday.

On Nov. 8, Cumberland County voters approved the bond referendum 40,217 to 27,791 in unofficial counts, with several small towns not yet reporting.

“I’m extremely pleased we were able to get the message out,” said Civic Center Board of Trustees Chairman Neal Pratt Tuesday night.

He said the outcome made it clear voters believe the Civic Center is well managed and will continue to be an economic engine for the region.

“It’s a resounding vote in favor of those principals,” he said.

As expected, greater Portland voters generally supported the bond, while voters from the outlying county towns were not as supportive.

Voters approved the measure 12,732 to 6,493 in Portland, 2,499 to 1,466 in Falmouth, 1,644 to 1,105 in Cumberland, 1,688 to 1,336 in Freeport, 1,992 to 1,186 in Yarmouth, 658-616 in North Yarmouth, 3,537 to 2,252 in Brunswick, 2,419 to 1,160 in Cape Elizabeth, 4,314 to 2,944 in Scarborough, and 4,322 to 2,642 in South Portland in unofficial results Tuesday night.

In New Gloucester, however, the referendum lost 899-727, and in Harrison it lost 527-284. It also narrowly lost in Windham 2,292 to 2,170.

In Gray, the bond was approved by an incredibly narrow margin, 1,166 to 1,152. It was also approved in Gorham.

The 34-year-old Civic Center on Spring Street in Portland hosts concerts, shows, conferences and the Portland Pirates professional hockey team.

The Pirates owner Brian Petrovek said the team will sign a 10-year lease for use of the Civic Center if the bond passed. Pratt said the lease negotiations would being as soon as possible. Construction will likely begin next summer, he said.

The total cost of the 25-year bond, including interest, has been estimated at $55 million.

The bond will pay for improvements, including new seats, wheelchair-accessible seating, additional restrooms and concourse space, improved backstage areas, club seating, a new loading dock and external facade improvements. There will be approximately the same number of seats after renovation as there are now.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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