BANGOR, Maine — It took a special City Council meeting, but Thursday’s unanimous vote to officially hire Cianbro Corp. to construct a new arena and convention center project in Bass Park was a formality.
In reality, Pittsfield-based Cianbro was first contracted by the city last May to serve as construction manager for the estimated $65 million project. Cianbro was brought on board shortly after the city retained the services of Colorado architect Don Dethlefs for the facility’s design.
A lot has happened in the last year, most notably a May 4 referendum vote in which 75 percent of Bangor residents who voted supported the arena project, but an official groundbreaking is fast approaching.
City Council Chairman Susan Hawes said Thursday’s special council meeting and vote was needed to ensure Cianbro can meet an aggressive construction timeline that already has been outlined.
That outline includes putting shovels in the ground later this summer and completing the project entirely by late 2013.
“Once the designs are all complete, then it’s up to us to execute and meet all the expectations of the city,” Vigue said shortly after the referendum. “This is a community that has really taken ownership of the project. That’s really exciting.”
During construction of the 5,800-fixed seat U-shaped arena (with a maximum capacity of 8,050) and adjoining convention center, the existing facilities will remain in use.
One thing that was not discussed Thursday but that is expected to be finalized soon is a guaranteed maximum price from Cianbro. The construction company is in the process of lining up dozens of subcontractors that will perform certain tasks during construction, so the number is in flux, but last year, Vigue assured councilors that Bangor would get an extremely fair price.
The project is to be paid for through revenues from Hollywood Slots and a portion of the city’s downtown tax increment financing district. Legislation passed in the Maine House and Senate that would allow Hollywood Slots to add table games could increase the city’s share of revenues in the years to come.
Now that Cianbro is officially in the fold, the next big step for the city is to bring on board a private management firm that would assume operations of the facility once its built. Councilors already have made it clear that they plan to turn over management and some big name firms have expressed interest.
Other minor items that need to be addressed in the coming months, include moving the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce building, which currently sits on the corner of Main and Dutton streets, and moving the skate park, which sits directly where the new arena will be built.
The city’s famed Paul Bunyan statue that overlooks Main Street will not be affected by construction.