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Old 10-28-2006, 01:51 PM   #21
Patrick
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Fix up the old, or bring on the new, but act
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Portland Press Herald Saturday, October 28, 2006

To see Taylor Hicks and his fellow "American Idol" contestants put on a show at the Cumberland County Civic Center belies any notion that the facility is ready for the wrecking ball.
The national "Idols" tour came to Portland on Sept. 21 -- though Maine was added to the itinerary late -- and packed the arena mostly with families. The show itself was professional and fun. It wasn't high-brow culture on par with the city's symphony, but it made 8,500 fans happy.
So what's wrong with this picture?
Plenty, if you talk to the civic center's trustees or anyone else familiar with the operation. More and more, shows like "American Idols Live" are becoming an exception in Maine. Big-name acts are opting for larger venues in the region, notably civic centers in Worcester, Mass., and Manchester, N.H.
And while the "Idol" show in Portland may have looked good with the view glossed over by a fog machine and lighting effects, the facility shows its age in the close-ups. The seats are worn. The staging area is pitifully small. The concession stands are too few and poorly placed. The handicapped access is not up to current standards. Even the scoreboard is past its prime, requiring operation without the aid of a modern computer.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to maximizing the potential of the civic center is limited seating. It holds 8,500 people for concerts, but is competing with venues able to accommodate 12,000 people or more.
None of this is news. That the civic center has fallen behind the times has been a topic of discussion for a decade. What has kept the facility in the 1970s is an inability of decision makers to choose between renovating the old structure or building an entirely new one. Equally difficult has been figuring out how to pay for a renovation or a new arena.
Efforts to repair or replace the Cumberland County Civic Center have started and stalled no fewer than six times in the past 10 years. Renovations have generally been rejected because the cost of expanding and modernizing the civic center has approached the cost of replacing it entirely.
Building a new facility hasn't caught hold because the economics of such a project require partial public funding. There is little appetite among city of Portland or Cumberland County officials to raise local property taxes to pay for a new facility. Meanwhile, efforts to get the state to chip in to improve civic centers around Maine have also gone nowhere, in part because rural lawmakers don't want their constituents' tax dollars subsidizing amenities for urban communities.
All of these obstacles offer an explanation as to why the civic center sits in its sorry state, but they do not afford the decision makers an excuse. Other communities have found ways to fund and site new or expanded arenas, and there is no practical obstacle to doing the same here.
Not that it isn't a difficult task.
It first has to be determined if the current structure should be renovated or replaced, and then the money has to be found.
Once again, the civic center trustees and other interested parties are talking about addressing the building's shortcomings, and so far it looks like this attempt is off to a better start.
For the first time ever, the trustees, the Cumberland County commissioners and Portland Mayor James Cohen and other city representatives got together this week to talk about what to do next with the aging facility.
They were brought together partly because the Portland Pirates hockey franchise -- the civic center's anchor tenant -- commissioned a study of possible renovations by the architect who oversaw the remaking of Fenway Park in Boston.
In some ways, the architect didn't have much new to say. The civic center can be brought into the 21st century, but it won't be cheap. A rough estimate -- a detailed study has yet to be done -- puts the cost of a complete makeover at $35 million to $40 million. Dale Olmstead, Freeport town manager and chairman of the civic center board of trustees, said a new arena could cost as little as $50 million, though other estimates have been considerably higher.
In the details of the study, though, were signs of a changing dynamic. The city is now willing to alter the streetscape around the civic center, giving it room to expand out, not just up. Renovations can be done in distinct stages or be scaled back, though the most expensive piece would be adding the 3,000 to 4,000 seats needed to make the arena regionally competitive.
These options seem worth pursuing, and the county, city, Pirates organization and, hopefully, the state should share in the $100,000 cost of producing a more detailed analysis of the renovation options.
In the end, an entirely new facility could still be the best course, but the parties should not let pursuit of the perfect outcome undermine a good one. Perhaps a case can be made for a $10 million renovation, or $20 million or $35 million. Yes, that would mean that some parties would have to give up their dream of a new arena, but it might just be good enough to fix up the old one.
As for funding, property taxes in the region are indeed too high. Only the state -- either through direct financial participation or through the authorization of a new tax revenue source -- can make this happen. There is serious talk these days of raising the meals and lodging tax for a variety of purposes, and funding new civic and convention centers would be a logical use for that new revenue.
Action has to start with the key stakeholders figuring out their options, developing a solid plan to either renovate or build new and then taking a concrete proposal to the state for financial help.
With persistence the parties can make sure Portland gets its share of both Hicks and hockey, entertainment that will bring dollars and life to the region.


Reader comments

Steven Scharf of Portland, ME
Oct 28, 2006 11:27 AM
?Even the scoreboard is past its prime, requiring operation without the aid of a modern computer.?

And this is bad because? If the Portland Pirates want a modern scoreboard, let the pay for it.


?Perhaps the biggest obstacle to maximizing the potential of the civic center is limited seating. It holds 8,500 people for concerts, but is competing with venues able to accommodate 12,000 people or more.?

And those additional 3,500 people are going to park where? Even being generous to say four people per car, that is 875 more cars coming into the city. I would suspect, event attendees would more likely come two to a car = 1,750 more cars.

Downtown Portland is no place for such a venue. Where ever it is built, it should be done totally with private funds and should pay property taxes to the community it is located in. The land it occupies in Portland could be better utilized by tax paying entities reducing the tax burden on the residents of Portland.

Steven Scharf
SCSMedia@aol.com

Dick of Freeport, ME
Oct 28, 2006 11:14 AM
Exactly right, JC, civic centers must be convention centers which rely heavily upon local businesses and corporation utilizing their meeting rooms. Take a look at the posh interior of the new Patriots Gillette Stadium's Executive areas and suites for an example, as well as the Augusta site.

The big "however" though, is the fact that Maine has no real businesses left that would use these facilities. No entrepreneur would ever deign to suggest financing such a project because it would never have a return on the investment. Of course, the way the People's Republic of Maine feels, they shouldn't get a return on an investment anyway. That would make them rich Capitalists, one step removed from bigot and racist.

Everything comes back to tax policy and allowing businesses to flourish without taxing and regulating them out of business. They provide the jobs and the mnoney that make the government wheels turn. The Democrats who run this state have killed the golden goose. They now look to tax increases on homeowners and working men and women to finance everything that should come from the private sector, the private sector they have conspired against. You want a new Civic Center? The first step is to throw the Democrats out of office and initiate sweeping tax reforms.

JC Connors of South Portland, ME
Oct 28, 2006 8:35 AM



The Center was built in the wrong place to start with. The parking and traffic are a mess even for the small number of seats that we have now.

The state government has much higher needs to be meet before spending endless millions of Centers.

The CCC is little more the a unfinished barn that offers none to the other needs of a Center.

We had a chance four years ago to have an 11,000 seat Convention Center in York County and it would not of cost tax payers a dime, it was voted down along with the casino.

Sending more money after bad is a bad plan. Having it in Portland is way more costly and dose not address things like parking and there would be no way to expand down the road.

To make the project it should be by revenue bonds not general fund tax dollars.

I would point to the Augusta Civic Center that has programs on going all the time. With meeting and function rooms that are not a eyesore. The rooms are comfortable, there is free parking, it is right of the Turnpike, the noise and traffic before and after an event dose not tie up all of down town.

We were told that the CCC was going to be a major tool for business in down town Portland most if not all them moved out years ago.

If it is a good plan and it can work then investors will take it on. The CCC with a handful of seats will NOT lower the ticket cost, only way to make more event affordable is to build a new Center outside of downtown Portland and to make it a as well as a Convention and meeting center.







Louis of Waterville, ME
Oct 28, 2006 7:31 AM
Certainly a broader discussion is appropriate. The Civic Center is NOT the only venue in Portland or the Greater Portland area. Just who would benefit? And what is the actual need? If the need is there, why is it necessary for the government to do this rather than for-profit entrepreneurs? This really seems like something that should be left to the market, to private business--not looking to socialist state investment to bail out the private sector!

Ed of Yarmouth, ME
Oct 28, 2006 1:20 PM
If TABOR passes, forget about a local option sales tax to fund a new civic center -- or anything else. One day the Portland papers endorse TABOR, the next they propose a major tax increase. Good thinking, guys.

Catharine of Cape Elizabet, me
Oct 28, 2006 1:13 PM
I can't help but note the irony of the PPH editorializing for a tax increase to support civic center improvements and its position on TABOR. The same inconsistency in position can be found in Joe Boulos's support for TABOR and his advocacy for a sales tax increase to fund his pet project.

Both PPH and Boulos criticize the Governor and legislature for their failure to contain the tax burden while also criticizing them for their failure to raise taxes to support the civic center.

The legislature has indeed failed to muster the majority support for this project while attempting to balance the state budget without tax increases. And they have done so without the need for the TABOR override standards to contain their exuberance to raise taxes.

If Joe and the PPH were to have their way, their proposed tax increase would need a 2/3 vote of the legislature and a majority vote in referendum to fund the civic center project. So far this proposal hasn?t been able to muster a minority of support in either party. Whether one considers this project a worthy investment in our economy or not, is this really the decision-making standard thoughtful advocates for a sound economy would want to apply?

Catharine, Cape Elizabeth
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Old 10-29-2006, 08:44 AM   #22
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Diane of New Gloucester, Me
Oct 28, 2006 11:24 PM
We recently attended the concert of the "Gaither's" at the Civic Center. I was totally ashamed to think that these wonderful people had driven all the way to Maine to put on a concert in such a "dump". #1. It is filthy. #2. There is no place to park, only in the parking garage for a gouging fee of $5. And, after the concert, you sit in the middle of Portland traffic for the rest of the night.
Next time people, why don't you build the Civic Center in the middle of Congress Street!!!!!

James Buffet of portland, me
Oct 28, 2006 7:02 PM
I am confused why my last comment was not published. It was essentially praising the approach taken by the author of this editorial in addition to pointing out the critical need for whatever lies ahead for the CCCC to lie in Portland. It makes no sense for a civic arena to be located outside of the economic heart of the region for several reasons. One, and perhaps the most important, reason is the symbiotic relationship that exists between event-goers at the CCCC and surrounding businesses. The businesses should have to pay for a new arena via a meals and lodging tax increase because patrons of the arena visit their stores and boost their sales. Without the arena in Portland, how could this happen? What kind of stores will absorb 10,000 concert-goers in westbrook, south portland, gorham, buxton etc? Get real. It has to be built in Portland. The second reason is common sense: most people live in portland, so build it there for reasons of convenience. In other words, build it in the spot where it would allow the most people to travel the shortest distance. any way you spin it, its portland. We need a 10,000 + seat arena, and we need it bad. otherwise that friendly (and competitive) mill-town in NH will continue to brag about how it is stealing our customers not only in airtravel (something given its proxsimity to boston that we cannot help) but also in entertainment (something we most certaily CAN help).

James Buffet of Portland, ME
Oct 28, 2006 2:28 PM
Excellent editorial. I admire the way the author approached this issue from both angles (rennovation AND building a new arena). The bottom line is that, yes, we do need to act, regardless of which decision prevails. We (i.e. the powers that be) must come to a concensus on the issue and subsequently take the necessary steps to achieve what is eventually (hopefully) agreed upon. To not do so will be to continue to cost the greater Portland region in terms of lost tourism and its related spin-off effects. This is where my next point comes in: It DOES matter where a new arena is built, assuming rennovations are not made instead, and that place SHOULD, nay, MUST be Portland, the economic heart of the state and Northern New England. Anyone who suggests otherwise is lacking knowledge of why civic arenas exist in the first place. They are not there solely for the entertainment of fans--that would be great, though--but they exist in a symbiotic relationship with the businesses around them. Just as television shows bring in viewers for the entertainment they receive and then stick them with ads in between during commercial time, civic centers also draw event-goers in for the fan experience and then surrounding establishments (restaurants, bars, shops etc.) nab them on their way back to their cars. And, just as the businesses running ads in between television and radio shows pay for the existence of the television or radio stations on which they air, businesses in and around the immediate area of a civic arena should similarly foot the bill for that complex's existence. Its only fair. How is that accomplished? Increase the meals and lodging tax. It only makes sense. It won't hurt any of the parties affected, and will in fact help them in the long-run, assuming the county and state have enough ambition to build something that wont need to be replaced in another thirty years. So, my suggestion is this: decide upon what to do, as the above editorial suggests, and then proceed to actually DO IT. And do so by increasing the meals and lodging taxes. Nobody will be hurt, and we will all enjoy a new arena, for sure. Perhaps best of all, we can stop hearing about how Manchester, NH, a mill-town turned renaissance suburb of Boston, is so much more progressive than Portland, the true heart of "the neighborhood" that is Northern New England.
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Old 10-29-2006, 11:21 AM   #23
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As far as I know, Buxton is still getting a brand state-of-the-art Hannafords Supermarket, so I'm pretty sure they can easily support a 10,000 seat civic center now.

There have been some really good comments on these stories, thanks for posting them Patrick. It's great that a lot of people support building a new structure in Portland!
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Old 10-29-2006, 01:57 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey
As far as I know, Buxton is still getting a brand state-of-the-art Hannafords Supermarket, so I'm pretty sure they can easily support a 10,000 seat civic center now.

There have been some really good comments on these stories, thanks for posting them Patrick. It's great that a lot of people support building a new structure in Portland!
Buxton I dont think is getting a new hannaford's anymore. The parcel I thought it would have been developed on has now been turned into a tru-choice credit union (where 22 crosses 202 by Gorham tractor & equipment and the 3-D variety plaza) I cant imagine where else it would go at that intersection, everything is already develpped.
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Old 11-01-2006, 12:09 AM   #25
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here is a copy of a letter that I will be submitting to the editor of the press herald for publication. wish me luck.

Don't Renovate Civic Center, Build anew in Bayside

Nearly thirty years ago the Cumberland County Civic Center opened its doors, offering top name acts and establishing itself as the premier large-scale entertainment complex in Greater Portland. The passage of time has not been kind to the aging arena, however, and it is now apparent that for the Southern Maine entertainment-related tourism scene to remain regionally competitive, one of two things must happen: either an extensive investment in renovations must be made, or a new and improved structure must be erected elsewhere. Perpetuating the status-quo represents a nonviable business plan for all parties concerned. It was therefore with utter confusion that I attempted to digest Edward D. Murphy's article, "Consensus still eluding parties on civic center" (Oct. 24). In it, the outcome of an unprecedented meeting between Civic Center Trustees, members of the Portland City Council, and Cumberland County commissioners was characterized by discord, as opposed to the desperately-needed general agreement that necessarily must preceed future developments. Issues of controversy included, surprise, renovation versus new construction and the arena's current location versus somewhere new. Based on the following facts, such disagreement is frustratingly difficult to understand. Preliminary estimates claim the cost of renovation may approach the price tag of an entirely new arena, in addition to possibly requiring the alteration of the city's surrounding urban fabric. Investing in a new complex, on the other hand, would ensure the quality of amenities offered would increase exponentially for only a marginally higher cost. That we should build a new civic center is, in my mind, plain to see. Still, Portland Mayor James Cohen believes we should renovate, not replace, the aging stadium. Civic Center trustees, however, have endorsed the idea of a new arena wholeheartedly. It is their vision we should look to, not Cohen's. According to the article, the Mayor stands in opposition to building a new arena elsewhere, for example by a highway exit, because he fears fans may simply leave after events without visiting surrounding business establishments. This may be true of other places, but Portland's up-and-coming Bayside neighborhood represents an opportunity for us to deviate from the national trend and prosper where other municipalities have flopped. In Manchester, NH the Verizon Wireless arena has brought dozens of new restaurants and businessesto town and has played a leading role in the city's recent economic vibrancy . The same could happen here. Considering the self sufficiency of our natinally renowned Old Port district, relocating our civic arena to Bayside, which has already been earmarked for an urban makeover, may significantly aide a depressed part of the city without proving too detrimental to the area it would leave behind. With or without the Civic Center, people will visit the Old Port. Can we say the same about Bayside? It is imperative we realize that a viable plan for a new arena must be proposed, agreed upon, and allowed to reach fruition if we are to alleviate the problems suffered at the current complex on a long-term basis. The City and the County must also realize that building a new civic center close to I-295 as part of the layout envisioned for Bayside's development into an urban gateway would be our wisest move, as it would provide the least hassle associated with vehicular traffic, while at the same time serving as a catalyst for new and continued growth in the area.
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Old 11-01-2006, 01:32 AM   #26
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Would you hurry the hell up and run for council already! 4 more years 4 more years
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Old 11-01-2006, 12:54 PM   #27
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Nice letter Patrick. I think it makes a strong argument for a new facility while tackling the tired old excuses for not building one, i.e. cost, taxes. Those were the same opposition arguments made in Manch. Question - How about throwing a non-binding referendum on the ballot in Portland, asking if people support a new CC. That's what they did in Manch, and when it got a majority (just barely) it really got things moving.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:31 AM   #28
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Civic center face-lift revisited

Janet Marie Smith ushered in a new era of architecture at
baseball stadiums with Camden Yards in Baltimore and shaped
recent changes at Fenway Park in Boston.

Now parties with a stake in the Cumberland County Civic Center
are paying her $175,000 to see how she would renovate the
arena, a building that she evaluated briefly last year.

"This effort is really about taking a step back and looking at the
existing facility," said Portland City Councilor James Cohen,
commenting on Tuesday's announcement.

Cohen is a member of the new task force of city, county, civic
center and Portland Pirates officials who will try to chart the
future of the 6,800-seat arena in downtown Portland.

The move is the latest development in what is now a decade-old
effort to either upgrade or replace the 30-year-old facility,
which is small compared with other entertainment venues of its
kind.

It signals acceptance by civic center trustees that plans to build
a new arena, resisted by lawmakers locally and in Augusta since
the late 1990s, are no longer politically viable.

"If the political realities are such that it's virtually impossible to
get a new facility, we want to pursue alternatives," said Neal
Pratt, a trustee and task force spokesman.

The Legislature effectively killed the last drive for a new arena in
Portland when it adjourned two years ago without voting on a
proposed local-option tax that would have helped fund a $250
million office, hotel and arena complex.

The new task force hired Smith to devise a plan to expand
seating capacity, provide better access for the disabled and add
amenities to better serve fans, athletes and entertainers.

Baltimore-based Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, her firm, also
will study whether the arena is sound enough to warrant a
phased renovation, task force members said.

County, city, Pirates and civic center representatives gathered
for a summit on the arena in late October. The meeting came
days after Smith, lured by Pirates officials, presented a simple
renovation sketch to arena trustees who had expressed
reservations about the cost of another study.

The four entities later agreed to form a task force on the arena's
future and split the cost of Smith's $175,000 contract. The task
force has not committed to accepting her proposals.

Smith is known for designing Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the
first of several new athletic facilities to incorporate a retro look,
and for her work at Fenway Park.

Portland Pirates CEO Brian Petrovek said Smith has a reputation
for finding ways to "open up" athletic facilities to make them
more attractive, moving concession stands outdoors and
working to incorporate surrounding neighborhoods in the
game-day experience.

Petrovek, a task force member, said her style fits with marketing
studies that show sports fans value things such as bathrooms,
concession stands and a facility's appearance.

"It does not necessarily have to be a 10,000- to 12,000-seat
facility that costs an enormous amount of money," he said.

Smith estimated in the earlier meeting with civic center trustees
that it would cost $35 million to $40 million to renovate the
facility. The price tag, about half the cost of a new facility,
according to some estimates, raised questions about whether
the job was worth the expense.

Task force members said they have asked for a renovation that
could be completed in phases. Smith will present her findings in
about three months.

PAST PROPOSALS
1997: A report concludes that the existing civic center can be

renovated and expanded for $23 million.

1998: The Libra Foundation offers land in Bayside and $20

million to help Portland build a new arena.

1999: The city declines the Libra Foundation's offer, saying it

doesn't want to ask taxpayers to help finance the $46 million

proposal.

2000: A report by Heery International concludes that the civic

center needs $4 million in repairs, and could expand by 2,500

seats with new restrooms and a new faade for $37 million.

2002: Trustees shelve plans to renovate the civic center, saying

it is more prudent to build a new arena. Hugh Farrington, former

CEO of Hannaford Bros., is chosen to lead an eight-member

committee to determine the feasibility of building a new sports/

entertainment complex.

2003: The committee recommends building a new and larger

arena on a parking lot on Congress Street near City Hall, at a

projected cost of $50 million to $60 million.

2005: The Lincoln Center office-hotel-arena complex proposed

for the Congress Street lot dies after the Maine Legislature

chooses not to support public financing.

2006: Janet Marie Smith, the architect who oversaw renovations

at Fenway Park, proposes renovations that would cost $35

million to $40 million.
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Old 09-13-2007, 08:54 AM   #29
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Future Civic Center

Public meeting being held on Wednesday, September 26 at 5:30 pm at the Penalty Box Grille inside the CCCC. Janet Marie Smith (Architect) will be in attendance as well as the Civic Center board of trustees. More details can be found at the civic center website.
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Old 09-25-2007, 02:55 PM   #30
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Has anyone been to any of the public meetings like the one happening tomorrow night? I'd really like to go but I have class right after work tomorrow. Perhaps we can get some first-hand accounts of the talks if anyone here attends.
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Old 09-25-2007, 04:29 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey
Has anyone been to any of the public meetings like the one happening tomorrow night? I'd really like to go but I have class right after work tomorrow. Perhaps we can get some first-hand accounts of the talks if anyone here attends.
I am planning on attending. If in fact I do, I will fill you in.
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Old 09-27-2007, 08:36 AM   #32
portlandneedsnewarena
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Quote:
Originally Posted by portlandneedsnewarena
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corey
Has anyone been to any of the public meetings like the one happening tomorrow night? I'd really like to go but I have class right after work tomorrow. Perhaps we can get some first-hand accounts of the talks if anyone here attends.
I am planning on attending. If in fact I do, I will fill you in.
Attended the meeting and this is how I saw it;
1. Architect Janet Marie Smith will do a fabulous job w/ her proposal to make the best of the old relic the CCCC.
2. Portland City Councilors K. Donoghue & D. Marshall who were in attendance were not impressive at all. Especially Marshall who rambled on about idling Tour buses (the ones that the performers use) that pollute the neighborhoods air, green building, etc.. No wonder the City is in jeopardy of screwing up the Maine State Pier project with people like this on the Council.
3. Councilor Jim Cohen and Civic Center board of trustees head Neil Pratt were impressive and had constructive thoughts.
4. To many people got off on closing streets (Free or Spring) to have an atmosphere like what is outside Fenway Park 2 hours prior to a ballgame. Uh, people, this is the home of a hockey team. I don't think to many people are going to want to hang outside in 20 to 30 degree temps in January or February.
5. There was one angry lady w/ sunglasses who wanted to hear nothing of closing off the streets and wanted the Civic Center more integrated w/ the neighborhoods and businesses, in particular the Portland School of Art and some lovely little dance studio near by. She said she had to contain herself from getting angry and not saying what she really wanted to say in regards to some of the comments she was hearing. She kept referring to the Portland Pirates and how their name connected w/ piracy on the internet. A real whack job if you ask me.

Overall, Janet Marie Smith was very interesting and Neil Pratt was worth listening to, but the majority of the people who spoke just don't seam to get it.
Pratt said a new facility wasn't going to happen in the short or mid term and the long term was very iffy.
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Old 09-27-2007, 04:29 PM   #33
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Hah, that lady talking about professional hockey and Internet piracy sounds amusing.

Thanks for the report! I agree with your opinions on closing off streets and idling tour buses. I guess if they did a real bang-up job with renovating the current structure I would be fine with not getting a new one in the next few decades.
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:41 AM   #34
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

Is it just me or have things progressed kind of slow on this issue?

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/st...78768&ac=PHnws

I remember being at the meeting originally set for this topic two years ago, and it is just now producing some results? moreover, and perhaps more annoying, is that the progress that has been made basically says that the issue needs to be studied more. Do these people actually do anything on this issue, or do they just study things and conclude that what they are studying needs more studying? If I could donate a nickel for every stupid task force in the city I'd give it to the civic center trustees and they wouldn't have to wonder how to foot the bill for a new venue.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:21 AM   #35
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
Is it just me or have things progressed kind of slow on this issue?

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/st...78768&ac=PHnws

I remember being at the meeting originally set for this topic two years ago, and it is just now producing some results? moreover, and perhaps more annoying, is that the progress that has been made basically says that the issue needs to be studied more. Do these people actually do anything on this issue, or do they just study things and conclude that what they are studying needs more studying? If I could donate a nickel for every stupid task force in the city I'd give it to the civic center trustees and they wouldn't have to wonder how to foot the bill for a new venue.
And 2 years from now they will be having another meeting to discuss the same thing. Very frustrating. I attended the last meeting and for the most part was just a big waste of time.

I was in Springfield, MA last Winter for several days for a youth hockey tournament. Attended a game at the Mass Mutual Center (formerly the Springfield Civic Center). That facility underwent a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago. The end result is very nice. Modern look to the exterior, wide corridors, very good concession areas, luxury boxes, I assume additional seating, one large and one small sit down restaurant/sports bar, plenty of restrooms, etc. When checking out of my hotel room I noticed a Civic Center renovation tax. It was something like $6 or so. So there is a community that has a meals and lodging tax to pay for a first grade upgrade to an aging facility. I could have cared less that they charged to me a few extra $$. Every time that (meals and lodging tax)comes up in this State the people cry that it is going to hurt tourism and effect the number of people going out to eat. I seriously doubt that would happen.
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:10 AM   #36
Patrick
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

I'm almost beginning to wonder if the civic center should be built elsewhere, in a place like scarborough, that actually seems like it has the motivation and political processes in place to get it built. Today's article says janet marie smith could increase seating capacity by a few hundred only. That doesn't sound too competitive for major acts. one of the comments to the article said build it in scarborugh, which I kind of agree with. Spring street is an ugly stretch that occurred from the same sort of decision making that led to franklin arterial. the only difference is that it doesn't connect to state street like the city planners originally were interested in, so it really doesn't serve any purpose since neither does it connect to franklin. franklin arterial made monument square high rises possible. spring street made, uh, the ugly civ center and the ugly holiday inn possible? get rid of the civic center in portland if it can't be rebuilt elsewhere and replace that whole block with development more appropriate for the urban character of portland. right now spring street is wasted space. plus, civic centers are huge draws for surrounding businesses (portland doesn't need this due to the reputation of the old port) but scarborough, which is considering constructing a town center where scarborough downs is, could certainly benefit from increased foot traffic. scarborough needs to stop riding on the coattails of south portland because in many ways it is beginning to outpace so po in commercial activity. it is time that it had a town center and I think this may just be the place for it. imagine how great a modern arena would be in a town that built something bigger than the portland civic center just to sell outdoor goods...
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:08 AM   #37
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
I'm almost beginning to wonder if the civic center should be built elsewhere, in a place like scarborough, that actually seems like it has the motivation and political processes in place to get it built. Today's article says janet marie smith could increase seating capacity by a few hundred only. That doesn't sound too competitive for major acts. one of the comments to the article said build it in scarborugh, which I kind of agree with. Spring street is an ugly stretch that occurred from the same sort of decision making that led to franklin arterial. the only difference is that it doesn't connect to state street like the city planners originally were interested in, so it really doesn't serve any purpose since neither does it connect to franklin. franklin arterial made monument square high rises possible. spring street made, uh, the ugly civ center and the ugly holiday inn possible? get rid of the civic center in portland if it can't be rebuilt elsewhere and replace that whole block with development more appropriate for the urban character of portland. right now spring street is wasted space. plus, civic centers are huge draws for surrounding businesses (portland doesn't need this due to the reputation of the old port) but scarborough, which is considering constructing a town center where scarborough downs is, could certainly benefit from increased foot traffic. scarborough needs to stop riding on the coattails of south portland because in many ways it is beginning to outpace so po in commercial activity. it is time that it had a town center and I think this may just be the place for it. imagine how great a modern arena would be in a town that built something bigger than the portland civic center just to sell outdoor goods...
I have thought that Scarborough would be a good location too (right off the turnpike). Possibly a joint venture between the Portland Pirates and private developers.
Possibly turn the CCCC into a Convention Center.
It's pretty obvious that the current CCCC committee can't get out of there own way and will never get anything major done.
The area needs a new state of the art Arena and the only way it will ever get done is by a private developer. Arena's don't generate enough $$, so I don't see a private developer getting involved.
I think you will see the 30 story high rise before you will ever see a new arena.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:34 AM   #38
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

From today's PPH:

Quote:
County Commissioner Mallory Shaughnessy noted that the civic center didn't make enough money this year to cover its operating expenses, falling several hundred thousand dollars short ? a difference that Cumberland County had to make up. Commissioner Richard Feeney noted that that's happened only three times since 1991.
It is truly a terrible sign when a building of this age no longer covers its own operating expenses. Most everyone has been hoping for a new building or major renovations for the last decade.

I obviously would love for a new arena to stay in downtown Portland. Kansas City recently built the Sprint Center downtown which is the cornerstone of a new entertainment district. If I had to chose a suburban arena like the Meadowlands or an urban one like Madison Square Garden I would chose the urban option in a heartbeat.

I would only support a suburban arena if it is served regularly by some sort of mass transit that involves trains, trams, or anything on rails from Portland and surrounding areas. Any city in America can build a big box stadium surrounded by a sea of parking spaces, at least try something new.
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Old 08-25-2009, 12:05 PM   #39
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

I wish I had gone to the meeting now. I knew there would be people there angering
me and I probably would have made a scene.

I'd be okay with the renovations and the little bit of extra seating. Sure we won't get mega concerts but we'll still get the second run of shows and concerts that want to start here to warm up.

It really needs to stay in downtown. I hate seeing those huge parking lots that go from Commercial st and then over fore st. Ideal place to build a new one.

If the arena goes outside of Portland, it will be part of the Stroudwater development in Westbrook. I don't they would put it in Scarborough.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:14 PM   #40
Patrick
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Re: Portland - Civic Center

all very good and interesting points and comments. Usually I have a strong position on things like this, but this time I am not sure. I guess when it comes down to it, I am for what's best for Portland...I just don't know what that would be. The "region" obviously needs a new civic center to compete for tourists (our state's main industry), but as to whether it goes in Portland or not, I don't think the answer is clear yet for me. But here are some of my thoughts:

For Portland: added vibrancy during shows, increased attention for the city

for the suburbs: civic centers are, to me, just another version of big retail stores typically seen in the suburbs. I know urban centers have had civic arenas forever, but in Portland our civic center came at the expense of a vast inner city multi lane expanse of wasted space 9spring street) and it undoubtedly replaced some interesting and much more dense buildings. Most of the time, nothing is going on at the civic center. I think it would be best to knock that whole ugly block down and replace it with mixed use businesses and residential. I think spring street should be narrowed and the median removed. while walking from congress' arts district to the old port, if you take spring street, there seems to be a disconnect in the urbanness of Portland. urban, suburban, urban again. I know big shows are interesting and all, but they sort of seem like something that should go about by a mall or other retail area. I don't think they mesh well with the urban character of a city. They are venues that are usually built next to easy access transportation facilities (good suggestions for the tram if built in some place like scarborough, corey) and so they remind me more of cabellas than a walkable downtown. I guess if rail could make such a facility feasible, I would be more open to an arena in Portland, but with current transportation options, I say kick this unruly tenant out to the suburbs. lets not forget rail built american cities, and interstate destroyed them.

I suppose an arena could go in bayside, but that is already suburban, so whose to say that scarborough, which may not be technically part of the city but which is close enough by to be considered so by any tourist, wouldn't be just as good. if the arena moves, it has to move to either cacoulidis' property, top of the old port, or one of the properties across from the current location. Or, it would have to go in the burbs. if it stays put, it will be a misguided investment, in my opinion. there is plenty of space around the current facility, I was kind of hoping famed architect JMS would give something a little more inspiring and visionary, given her work in Boston and the fact that she worked so much on the concept. the price tag of renovations is now approaching what it would have cost to build a new arena earlier (and its not all attributable to inflation). the more the city sits on this thing, the more it costs.

I think, in the end, a new arena would be best in scarborugh. scarborugh is closer to saco-biddeford-oob (which draws bigger audiences to these sorts of things, that's why the imax is located there and not portland) and it is also closer to beach tourism in the summer. moreover, it suits the built environment in scarborugh much better than in Portland. I say we should reclaim the civic center space as an urban destination.

That said, it is always exciting to have shows going on in town, so I kind of think it would look ugly in Portland but at the same time enjoy the crowds. Im not sure what to do. I am beginning to see how this could possibly take so long to deliberate (however, I don't get paid to think about it, like some of these foot draggers).
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