As if there isn’t enough of a buzz in the area hockey community these days, it’s about to get cranked up another few decibels real soon.

It feels as though it’s been years since the NCAA, Bowdoin College, the Maine Sports Commission and the Androscoggin Bank Colisee jointly announced that the 2014 NCAA Division III hockey national semifinals and final will take place in Lewiston.

It’s only been a few months.

But those few months have flown by, and with nary a peep from any officials from the aforementioned groups.

According to Jim Cain, an owner of the Colisee and president of Firland Management, which runs the facility, the radio silence has been by design.

“Maine Sports Commission, Bowdoin College and us, we’ve had several meetings. We’ve outlined the various needs and requirements by way of structure, organizations and committees to get involved, and where we need help to put this thing together,” Cain said. “We’ve got that piece completed, and we were quiet all summer deliberately. It’s hard to get people to have summertime involvement in any of these things, so we decided we would kick start this whole thing in September, and we’ll have adequate time to get this thing done. We’ll do it right, we’ll work fast and we have some of the things done and tied down already.”

For the sake of everyone involved, I certainly hope so.

The Colisee is going to be a busy place this season, for the first time since the Lewiston Maineiacs left town. With the AHL’s Portland Pirates playing their first 13 games at the Colisee, through Jan.10 (officially, there could be more), and the Junior Pirates’ unveiling their new USPHL U-20 squad in increments after that, the Junior Pirates’ youth programs will have company at the Lewiston facility.

Any renovations that need to be made (and we know there will be some) will have to happen around all of these events, as well as around any other events (MMA shows, home shows, concerts, etc.) that pop up.

Cain said the NCAA is scheduled to arrive at the building sometime in mid to late September for a scheduled walk-through, to discuss what needs to be done to accommodate these championships.

Based on Lake Placid’s recent run as host and the amenities offered at those venues, the biggest chore from a hockey standpoint will be the off-ice facilities — locker rooms, showers, storage, loading and unloading. The rink is more than adequate, and I dare speculate that the event in Lewiston will be at least as well-attended, if not better-attended, than it was at Lake Placid.

“The likelihood of an East-coast-based team being in that final four is extremely high,” Jim Cain said. “There will be a lot of people driving to this thing.”

Cain has a point there, without trying to make one.

Bowdoin College will do everything in its power to make sure the event reflects it in a positive light. So, too, will the NCAA, the MSC and the Colisee.

And from every indication, each of these organizations and businesses has a firm grasp on what it’s going to take to run a successful hockey event.

But they can’t do it alone.

I am not privy to the communications between any of these organizations and the cities of Lewiston and Auburn. (I’d be happy to listen in at any time, mind you.)

But it would be in their best interests to ensure that an open line of communication exists. This is imperative for both sides. The cities need to listen and converse with organizers, and organizers need also to listen and be receptive to alternatives should original ideas and plans be deemed improbable or impossible.

This begins with infrastructure.

No one in this area likes road construction, save for those who earn a living providing this service. And no one, I am sure, enjoys paying for it. But what city officials, taxpayers and the organizers must understand is that in addition to the event being well-run, for it to be well-attended, people have to first be able to get there — preferably easily.

Given that most people arriving for the games will do so from the highway — and then from the hotels at which they will stay for three or more nights — all entities involved should make every possible effort to ensure all routes to and from the facility are clearly marked, mapped and accessible, even if there is still snow on the ground.

With an impending election, it’s important for everyone to realize that spending money on this event, with a chance to showcase the region to thousands of people from outside the area, is worth oodles on the back end.

You may not be a hockey fan. You may never step foot inside that rink, and perhaps you never have. But I am 100 percent certain you will be, or know someone who will be, directly affected by this event in a positive way.

It’s September now. The leaves are starting to change. Before you know it, the snow will be flying, and then the leaves budding.

It’s time to get this thing off the ground.


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