LEWISTON – Councilors pledged financial backing Tuesday for Central Maine Civic Center renovations, despite frustration that details of the project were not available.

The City Council approved a $2 million loan guarantee for an extensive upgrade at the civic center, where a local junior hockey team will play.

Council President Renee Bernier wanted to see construction bids and a construction timeline.

“One of my questions is, where do you get $2 million if you haven’t put out any bids?” Bernier said. “How do you know how much this will all cost?”

The loan guarantee is part of an incentive package the city put together to lure a Quebec Major Junior Hockey team from Sherbrooke, Quebec. The Lewiston MAINEiacs will call the civic center its home ice beginning in September.

The package includes a $220,000 tax-increment financing reimbursement to civic center owner Roger Theriault and a $150,000 TIF payment to the team, as well as the loan guarantee.

Those incentives are designed to fund the $2 million renovation. Plans call for a new rink surface with new boards and glass, room for up to 4,000 spectators, new concession areas, administrative offices, locker rooms and paving for the center’s dirt parking lot. It also includes a 10-year contract to keep the team in Lewiston.

According to Finance Director Richard Metivier, the city guarantee would be used only if Theriault defaulted on his other loans.

“Until there’s a default, this would not be activated,” Metivier said. “But it does provide a degree of security for the other lenders, and allows the work on the center to move ahead.”

Metivier told councilors that work on the project was moving forward and that Theriault is scheduled to sign a final deal with the team this week.

Councilor Roger Philippon said that was enough for him.

“There is no surprise that there is an element of risk for the city associated with this,” Philippon said. “But we need to make a statement, loud and clear and with fanfare, that we support this project. It’s vitally important for the city.”


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