PORLTAND — Portland Pirates managing owner/CEO Brian Petrovek said that it was an easy decision to play the team’s postseason at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, and believes he’s being unfairly accused of delaying the renovation.
“We were wedged into making a decision, and now we’re being thrown under the bus because the renovation schedule extended,” said Petrovek.
With Phase I nearing completion on a 33-million dollar renovation to the Civic Center, it was anticipated that Phase II would begin once the Pirates regular season was completed on April 22, which would have forced the team to find an alternative home to play its playoff games.
There was belief among some trustees that the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston could potentially be that option for the Pirates as they played six regular season games this year.
It’s an assertion that Petrovek disagrees with.
“Knowing the contractor and the building had always had that date as a start day,” said Petrovek. “One of two things was assumed, we weren’t going to make the playoffs, and if we did make the playoffs that we would play elsewhere. We have a contractual right to play (at the Civic Center) in the playoffs. There is an intersections of some issues that become quite delicate and everybody knew about that April 22 date and the ‘what if’s’ in September, if not earlier.”
“How could one create a schedule like that and put ‘us’ who has a contractual right to perform in its building in a position where it has to consider alternatives, and that’s a difficult position to be put into and it’s a position that we’ve dealt with for many weeks on trying how to make sense of Phase II.”
Neal Pratt, Chairman of the Civic Center Trustees said the original schedule was done to minimize interruption to both the Pirates and the building in terms of bringing in other events and it not a case of placing blame.
“In no way are we assessing blame because they have that right under the current lease agreement,” he said.
“It’s like building a jigsaw puzzle. When (Cianbro) created a building schedule it’s laid out to very tight timelines, and the subcontractors couldn’t sit idle. Cianbro needed to know by early Jan. and there were no substantive answer (from the Pirates), and that went into Feb before I contacted Brian and said we urgently needed to hear from him.”
The Pirates, who are in the second year of a multi-year affiliation agreement with the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL, played six regular season games in Lewiston, and although Lewiston was considered a success, selling out five of the six games, the team decided to play its playoff games in Portland, citing player development reasons.
“The decision was all about player development,” said Petrovek. “We had a right to make it. We made it.
We spend of time looking at alternatives, but at end of the day if I risked a relationship with my biggest customer, the Phoenix Coyotes, I made a bad decision.”
“For Phoenix, it was about player development. We probably could have figured out the logistics. We would have taken risk by doing that because you’d never know what could have gone wrong. We couldn’t take that risk.”
The Pirates are in the final season of a one-year lease extension with the Civic Center and have yet to put season tickets on sale for next season. The delayed start into next season has affected negotiations, but both sides believe if they can overcome the construction issues that a lease agreement is not far off.

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