Are The Portland Pirates Moving?
This season for the Portland Pirates has already been a mess. The team and the board of trustees of the Cumberland County Civic Center have been at odds that forced the team to play in Lewiston, the record is subpar at 2-3-0, and the future of the Pirates is in serious doubt.
One glimmer of hope for the Pirates future was announced a few days ago when ownership entered talks to buy property in the city of Saco for their own arena. Saco City Council voted 6-1 in favor of approving an option between the city and the Maine Hockey Group. If this all goes well, both sides have agreed on a $105,000 price tag for the nearly 13 acre property.
Saco, located just under half hour away from Portland and has a residency of 18,462, has already played home to some Pirates preseason games and is the perfect place for the Pirates to call home.
Not That Different from Portland
While Portland may be the largest city in Maine, the Pirates moving from Portland to Saco isn’t really all that different.
Saco is located close enough to Portland where it’s fans could still travel in relative ease to games. The Pirates are now located in Lewiston, over 45 minutes away from Portland, and it’s not the easiest commute. Whereas Saco is right off of Interstate 95 and is in very close proximity to Portland.
Such issues with moving to Saco like traffic have already been addressed. The road that the property is on is a dead end road, but they have been talking about extending the road to connect it with another nearby road.
The demographic of the Saco-Old Orchard Beach-Scarborough area is a lot younger than the Lewiston-Auburn area and that could pull in more fans and, with the Portland Pirates already having a large fanbase in Southern Maine, this is the best possible place outside of Portland to play.
No More Arguing
With a new arena, the Pirates will now have more freedom than they ever had at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The Pirates ownership group would own the arena and they don’t have to answer to a board of trustees like they have been at the Civic Center.
Although the Pirates will more than likely need to give some money to the city of Saco, the team will see more money in terms of ticket and concession sales. Concession sales was one of the big sticking points in the standoff between the Pirates and the Cumberland County Civic Center, but that could soon be a thing of the past.
The Pirates ownership group can also make more money by renting out the venue for non-hockey events. More money for any team can lead to great things in the future.
The Envy of the AHL
A new state of the art arena turns heads and now the Pirates have a chance to be the envy of every AHL team. The Colisee, the Pirates’ temporary home in Lewiston, is an old building and not up to AHL standards. If the Colisee wasn’t good enough for the QMJHL, it won’t be good enough for the AHL.
While it can’t attract free agents, it can attract something else, like say an AHL All-Star Game, which could put the Pirates on the map and again line the Pirates’ pockets with more money.
A new arena in Saco would be a complete 180 from where they are in Lewiston and is an absolute must if the team wants to remain in Maine. If the Pirates can’t agree with the board of trustees at the Cumberland County Civic Center or find a new arena in Saco, the Phoenix Coyotes would just be better off affiliating with another AHL squad and effectively ending the Pirates reign in Maine.
Time could be running out for the Pirates in Maine, but the city of Saco could very well save them. Now they just have to come to an agreement and that is always a question mark for any team.
What do you think of the Pirates’ possible plans to move to Saco? Comment below or send me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham