Monday, March 08, 2010

Portland Pirates - A CMSB Week in Revue

After spending a week on the highly publicized story of the Portland Pirates leaving town, I thought I would offer up an opinion piece. While my opinion has been put out there in various forums, I feel the need to point out where some might lack a clear understanding of what is actually going on here. First let's recap how we got here.
  • Monday- Pirates present Cumberland County Civic Center Board of Trustees a 2 page memo outlining major portions of their proposal to secure a 15 year frozen lease for the CX4 (Cumberland County Civic Center)
  • Tuesday- The CX4 Sports Committee held a meeting to discuss the offer
  • Friday- CX4 Board of Trustees met to officiakky decline th eoffer and "put the ball in Brian's court"
  • Friday- Petrovek allegedly tells WBLM listeners that a "decision was going to be made Saturday"
  • Saturday- Former Pirates owner Godfrey Wood offers mediation, Board declines
  • Sunday- Pirates lose 3rd straight including their "home" game in Buffalo

Monday, The CMSB came upon some information, from multiple sources, that Brian Petrovek, Managing Partner and CEO of The Portland Pirates had a "agreement in principal" with the Albany Times Union Center in Albany NY to move the Pirates there in the 2011 season. It was later defined to us a an "outline of a deal" which is probably a matter of point of view and semantics. On Tuesday night, after talking to more sources, we learned exact numbers contained in the Pirates proposal. Those numbers we confirmed by many sources, then, after the CCCC Trustees meeting Friday morning, Petrovek confirmed all those numbers in a Portland Press Herald story.

What does this all mean? Well, as a taxpayer of Cumberland County who has lived here all of my life (unlike many who chime in on this subject), I have my strong opinions. What Neal Pratt and the Board want is to continue under the same parameters. Brian Petrovek and Pirates want to not only change fundamental organizational aspects of the Civic Center, additionally they want a long term frozen lease, with items that aren't even on the drawing board yet.

How could a group, charged with representing taxpayers, say yes to a deal like that...ever? Answer is plain and simple, they can't. According to Neal Pratt, the Civic Center operated in the red in 2009, any change to the current deal would make that situation much worse. Would you care to guess where that money would come from? You simply can not avoid the real world in this discussion.

The problem I see across the area this week, the sports world never crosses with the real world. Would we all love a renovated or new Civic Center...of course. That ship sailed 3 years ago when the city declined 2 different offers. A renovated CCCC will happen, just not fast enough for The Portland Pirates, and for that as fans, we just have to live with that. The current ownership group has always wanted to run the Civic Center. The county isn't selling and the Pirates are moving on, it really is that simple.

Now lets talk about the way all of this was handled. Brian Petrovek has screwed this up from the start. I don't begrudge the Pirates wanting to make money. If Albany provides you the best place to earn the money you want to earn, bon voyage and good luck, I have zero issues with that. Please don't insult the intelligence of the fans of Portland to make it look like you are trying real hard to stay in Portland. You are trying to hold the county up for 40+ guaranteed dates for huge taxpayer concessions, so thanks, but no thanks. I'm not interested in putting a "for profit" sports company on the long list of companies getting concessions on the backs of taxpayers.

Mr. Petrovek, all we want is honesty. You have tried to save face from the start by being less than forthright with fans. If you are talking to Albany, say so, just be sincere and honest about the wheres and whys that don't affect your negotiations. You have denied discussions with Albany, until is was clear that you were speaking to them. You have every right as a business owner to secure the best deal for your investors, no question. All we ask is transparency. The folks at Atlantic Coast Radio (who broadcast your games) have tried for nearly a month to get you on the record about this issue, and I fear because of our article, you have avoided us, and that's a shame. Why do sports people not understand that all fans want is honesty,and take the hit short term for long term respect?

My feeling is this time next week, it will have been announced that the Portland Pirates are Albany bound and the CCCC is in negotiations with the Lowell Devils to move to Portland. The fans and the county taxpayers are all being served in this process, and in the end that is all that is important. Of course we will miss Salty Pete and Crackers, but I am sure whoever comes in, will do whatever needs to be done to connect with fans in the Greater Portland area, of that I am 100% certain. Hockey will be played in 2011 at the CCCC.

Jeff Schools is the Associate Editor of The CMSB and the co-host and producer of The Weekend Warm-Up on the Big Jab 96.3, which is brought to you every Saturday from 8a-11a by Mr. Sparky.


Troy said...

I agree, I have sent multiple emails as well and no reply, even if he his back next year I won't be.

Troy said...

I totally agree with you and well said. I have sent Mr. Petro and his co owner vairous emails asking to be honest and no reply. At this point he ahs jerked us around long enough even if they are back next year, I won't buy tickets.

sassy said...

Thank you! Finally someone speaks the truth. The Pirates have been putting the screws to the taxpayers long enough. Bye-bye, see ya! There are plenty of other options out there.


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