April 24, 2018
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Penobscot County officials endorse arena; urge yes vote Wednesday

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot County commissioners have endorsed the construction of a new arena in Bass Park.

Commissioners Peter Baldacci of Bangor, Tom Davis of Kenduskeag and Stephen Stanley of Medway issued a joint statement late Friday.

Bangor voters are scheduled to cast their ballots Wednesday on a referendum question that would authorize construction of a new $65 million arena. City officials have said it would be paid for by money earned from Hollywood Slots and the downtown tax increment financing fund.

“It is after careful thought and consideration that the Penobscot County commissioners give their unanimous endorsement to this worthy project,” the statement said. “On Wednesday, May 4th we urge the citizens of Bangor to vote yes for this region and the City of Bangor.”

The current arena project is an updated version of an initial design first presented to the city last fall by architect Don Dethlefs and Cianbro Corp., the Pittsfield construction firm.

It calls for construction of a U-shaped arena with 5,800 fixed seats, expandable to a capacity of 8,050 seats for certain events. The arena would have state-of-the-art amenities, including skyboxes, an industrial kitchen, easily accessible loading dock space, some meeting space and more.

The project also includes an attached convention center of about 16,000 square feet that could be divided into seven individual rooms or left open to house as many as 2,800 people for specific events.

“The citizens of Bangor, the shiretown of Penobscot County, have the opportunity to make a decision which will impact the lives of the community and region for a long time,” the joint statement said. “The opportunity is the approval of construction of a new arena to replace the aging Bangor Auditorium.

“We believe the Arena can be a significant economic driver for Penobscot County and Eastern Maine,” commissioners said. “The arena will provide much needed construction jobs for workers in our region and hundreds of permanent jobs thereafter.”

Although Penobscot County officials have endorsed the project, they have not offered to help fund it.

Some opposed to the construction of a new arena have argued that Bangor taxpayers should not have to bear the entire cost if it truly is to be a regional facility.

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