Pirates, Shriners face off over Colisee space

UPDATE: Circus will go on at Colisee; Portland Pirates move game to Saco

LEWISTON — It’ll either be a circus at the Colisee on Saturday night or a hockey game.

It won't be both.

The 61st annual Kora Shrine Circus is booked to perform three shows at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee this weekend, including a 7 p.m. show on Saturday. The Portland Pirates are scheduled to play the St. John’s IceCaps at the same time. The Shriners and the Pirates have each proclaimed they are the rightful owners of that 7 p.m. slot, and that the other is going to have to find another venue.

The parties — including Colisee owner Jim Cain — have known about the conflict for some time, but the Pirates went on the offensive Saturday.

The team had been scheduled to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Colisee. In early April, because of the conflict, the team agreed to reschedule the Friday and Sunday games. They’re not interested in rescheduling the April 19 game.

Last Saturday, April 12, the team, through its communications office, issued a press release announcing it will play at the 7 p.m. slot as scheduled. And that the scheduled Team Award Ceremony will take place following the game, which is the last one of the season.

Not so fast, the Shriners said.

“There may be a hockey game, but it’s not going to be at the Colisee,” said Shriner Al Milburn, who is the Lewiston facilities coordinator for the charitable group’s annual circus performance. “Our contract supersedes their contract,” he said, and was signed three years ago guaranteeing the April 18 and 19 dates and showtimes.

The Pirates entered an agreement with the Colisee to play its 2013-14 schedule at the Colisee in late September.

“So,” Milburn said, “we’re going to be having our show. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

The Shriners, through Recorder Paul Sherman, declined to make an official comment on the scheduling conflict. The Pirates also declined to speak with the Sun Journal, other than to reiterate the team’s Saturday statement.

The Shriners and the Pirates are both selling tickets for their Saturday events, and both are promoting their appearances. Both are also getting a lot of phone calls from ticket holders and others who want to know what group actually has the right to the 7 p.m. time slot.

According to Milburn, Colisee owner Jim Cain told the Shriners last week that “we will be having a circus” Saturday night, but Cain wasn’t saying that Monday.

“We're working on a solution now," he told the Sun Journal at about 4 p.m. "It's going to take a lot of work from both sides, but we believe we can get it done."

Milburn doesn’t see how it’s possible for the rink to be available for hockey at all over the weekend. “We’re going to be moving in there on Thursday, and the floor is going to be covered with wood,” he said. Then workers will bring in the circus gear, including hanging expansive equipment in the rafters, while other crews bring in the animals, and “it’s going to be awful” in there, Milburn said.

The Pirates can take a hard line if they want, he said, and “we’ll see where it goes. But we’re having a circus there Saturday night.”

The Portland Pirates are the American Hockey League affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes and played this past season at the Colisee after being unable to reach agreement with the Cumberland County Civic Center in a lease dispute last fall. The Pirates will return to Portland for the 2014-15 season and have signed a five-year deal with the CCCC.

The Kora Shrine Circus has performed in Portland, Lewiston and Augusta every year since 1953, and will appear at the Colisee on Friday and Saturday. Shows in Portland will be performed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then in Augusta on Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26.

All proceeds from the performances benefit Kora Shriners, a fraternal organization that supports the Shriners Hospitals for Children and other charitable programs.

Sports Editor Justin Pelletier contributed to this report.

Sun Journal File Photo

Clown Larry Clark acknowledges the crowd during the 60th annual Kora Shrine Circus at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston on April 12, 2013. There is a dispute between the circus and the Portland Pirates because the circus and the hockey game are both scheduled at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Colisee.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



ERNEST LABBE's picture

How could this happen?

How could this happen? It would appear the Jim Cain really screwed up, or was trying to pull off a sham of sorts. He knew or should have know this weekend was booked. However the Shrine Circus is only for one weekend. On the other hand the Pirates were looking for season home.

Now I'm sure the revenue from the season long agreement far surpasses the amount that this weekend for the Shriner's will bring in. He was trying to have his cake and eat it too. I fear a judge is going to end up awarding one of the organizations a lot of cash.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Somebody dropped the ball...............

This is a pure example of what happens when you just assume things will work themselves out. How in the world could the management of the Colisee possibly not have prepared for this conflict. They knew about it, I think they just saw dollar signs when they had a chance to book the Pirates, and failed to make the necessary accommodations. This was probably one of those "we'll cross that bridge when we get there" sort of situations, the bridge just got here quicker than the management realized. I think this will shatter any lingering chance of the Pirates staying in Lewiston, I wouldn't be surprised if the solution to this blunder is a permanent move back to Portland starting this weekend. I can't believe they dropped the ball on this one.................


And next year the Pirates

And next year the Pirates will be back in Portland and not give a damn about Lewiston. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN..BOYS AND GIRLS...ON WITH THE SHOW!!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It was not that long ago

It was not that long ago where the Pirates' coach was blaming the Lewiston fans for the lack of energy in the building. He should have been blaming himself for putting a team on the ice that was consistently mailing in their efforts. Most games at the Colisee were like attending a funeral on ice.


Pirates vs. Circus

Either way, the circus is in town...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

From the Pirates' standpoint

From the Pirates' standpoint it looks like a real crappy ending to an exceptionally crappy season. It's a pity it has to end this way.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I think they ought to sell...........

I think they ought to sell tickets to the Box Office Saturday night when both groups of ticket holders show up at the same time. I suspect more entertainment than either the circus or the hockey game provides........


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...