Pirates pleased with Civic Center vote, but will more funds be needed in the future?

It’s never a slow sports news day in Southern Maine. Always something going on, even at the ballot box.
It was there that the voters of Cumberland County approved a referendum authorizing the borrowing of $33 million for renovations to the Civic Center in Portland.
The building, which is home to the Portland Pirates, is one of the oldest rinks in the 30-team AHL, and is in drastic need of repair and upgrade.
(Anyone who has taken in a Pirates game during a rainstorm can tell you about the puddles that collect on the concourse.)
Thus the bond issue, which passed by a 2-to-1 margin, came as good news to Pirates’ Managing Owner Brian Petrovek, whose partnership purchased the club in 2000.
“It’s kind of hard to characterize 11 years of searching for a solution,” said Brian Petrovek, the Pirates’ CEO and Managing Owner, Wednesday. “Seeing it come together in such a resounding way. What it’s going to deliver to the community and the region. And what it’s going to deliver to our fans and our sponsors. I couldn’t be happier.”
Constructed in 1977, the Civic Center has had its benefits – great sight lines and downtown location – and drawbacks – no premium seating and is cramped at every turn.
Lately, the minuses have outweighed the pluses the way a bull moose outweighs a poodle.
With funds now being made available, the ledger will be made more level, which will enable Petrovek to hammer out a long term lease with the County that will allow Maine’s only professional hockey team to stay put.
“We’ve been focusing on this win,” said Petrovek, “and now that it’s over, we’ll sit down and have a conversation (with the Civic Center Board of Trustees). I’m just so pleased that it’s this conversation, and not the alternative. Hopefully it will be the last (lease) we ever do.”
Still, one wonders whether $33 million will be enough to perform more than mere cosmetic surgery on the structure.
Similar facelifts on other New England arenas in recent years cost more than twice as much money – $72 million in Springfield, Mass., $80 million in Providence, R.I. – as Portland will have to work with.
If not, we may be hearing the same discussions 10 years down the road.