Monday, March 24, 2014

Civic Center excited to showoff facelift - By Michelle Libby

Saturday, March 22, the newly renovated Cumberland County Civic Center (CCCC) will open its doors for a public open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be three bands, refreshments, giveaways and tours of the new facility including some backstage areas that general admission tickets never see. 
The CCCC has been open since February 15, has had 12 event days and 50,000 people have been through the doors, said director of event services Roberta Wright. “Wednesday we had the certificate of occupancy and the home show moved in the next day.”

The renovations completed by Cianbro and WBRC Architects were paid for with a $33 million bond. The construction moved the exterior of the civic center to the edge of the property line, Wright said. It also brought all of the stairs leading to the civic center under cover. “We are no longer shoveling mounds of snow and acres of stairs,” she added. The entire building is also Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compatible in all areas of the CCCC. Elevators can take a person on a stretcher from the upper level to the floor of the civic center. All public areas are accessible to people in a wheelchair.  
The former platforms leading to upper seating areas are now bigger and have seating for 72 handicapped ticket holders and guests, some at ice level. 

There are 90 TVs throughout the building installed by David Munster of Windham. He also donated a plasma TV to give away at the open house. 

The Free Street concourse did not change much, Wright said. It was painted to match the entire civic center. At the beginning of that concourse a grill was added that will serve hamburgers, steak and cheese and pulled chicken sandwiches. The first of two family restrooms is located near this section of the civic center. There are other new bathrooms located throughout the CCCC as well. The Spring Street concourse was expanded by four feet.  

There is also a new window to sell Maine microbrews and the CCCC is now a Dunkin Donuts franchisee.  

New additions to the facility included suites added on two of the corners of the building, stacked three high. The first one is owned by The Libra Foundation, the first founding partner for the CCCC. The suite will be donated by The Libra Foundation to non-profit organizations for their entertainment. It will not be used for fundraising, said Wright. 

Each suite has a private bathroom and will have a personal attendant for snacks and drinks at the events. 

The other change is the amount of natural lighting that streams into the public spaces. “It was a smart design choice,” said Wright. The lighting has been switched to LEDs. She also pointed out the wood trim around the soffits of the civic center, which were added by Windham Millwork, who did all of the woodwork in the suites, railings, tables, back offices and ticket counters. “Anything wood or plastic laminate we did there,” said a representative of the Windham company. 
The CCCC also wanted to maximize saleable seats, since the remodel did not include a large increase in the number of seats. The operation booth was moved over to give better seating in the center of the arena. The almost 8,400 new seats are from Hussey Seating Company of North Berwick, the same company that put the original seats in in 1977. There are three different sized seats to fit the differently configured rows. 

There are two new recaptured spaces that will be used for private dining and gatherings. One is the Club Room which replaced the Captain’s Club. It’s a premium seating option. There are ways to be a part of the civic center by buying seats that help to directly pay off the bond on the building. There is also the addition of The Pavilion, a food and beverage lounge, above the Spring Street stairs and the CCCC’s first escalator.  

“There will be partitions for providing privacy. Here we’ll feed (the entertainers) a couple of lobsters and they’ll remember Portland, Maine,” said Wright. The bathroom in this area of CCCC has more fixtures than in the entire building before the renovation. 

The renovation has directly addressed the issues brought to the CCCC by people who have used the arena, including the addition of two new loading docks. 
Other additions include a new fire suppression system and upgrades to all of the mechanical systems. “This is where a significant amount of the money went,” said Wright. Seats were removed from where the concert stage is usually placed thus making the stage sit further back and opening up more concert seating, however they added telescopic seating to increase seating at other events. New flooring was put down on the concourses. In the backstage areas there are new suites and seven locker rooms. The new Portland Pirates locker room, still under construction, will be a large multi-use area for the team. 
There is also a new first aid room with attached bathroom and direct access to the outside where an ambulance would have access. 

The CCCC employs 11 full-time and 409 part-time staff. 

 “We hope to have more events and this gives us hope to maintain the events we have had. I’m not sure we’ll see Beyonce, but we’ll do more events,” said Wright. “Our plan was to improve the fan experience and bring us up to the standard in our industry.” 

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