High school basketball has returned to the Bangor Auditorium.
John Bapst of Bangor was scheduled to play its home games at the auditorium again this winter but those plans initially were sidelined due to a lack of heat in the building. That forced the Crusaders to move early-season contests to such venues as Newman Gymnasium at Husson University and Memorial Gymnasium at the University of Maine.
Specifically, a natural gas pipeline was being hooked up to the aging edifice to replace oil as the building’s heating fuel, said Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center general manager Mike Dyer.
In addition, the auditorium’s existing boiler had to be retrofitted to accommodate the change from oil to natural gas, he said.
Some last-minute issues regarding the changeover slowed the timeline a bit, Dyer said, but John Bapst has been able to host its most recent home games back at the auditorium.
Basketball fans concerned about parking for the Eastern Maine classes B, C and D high school basketball tournament at the auditorium come mid-February should find nothing different this year except for the view as they enter the complex.
While the primary entrance to the auditorium’s main parking lot, Dutton Street, has been closed off during the early stages of the construction of a new Bangor arena next to the current facility, Dyer said the street will be open again by tournament time. That means fans will be able to drive into the main parking lot just as they have in the past — only this year they will be see the construction project as they approach the auditorium.
Minor changes involving bus traffic and the Buck Street parking lot used primarily by Maine Principals’ Association staff and media are planned, but neither change will affect the general public, Dyer said.
The 2012 tournament will be the next-to-last one played at the current Bangor Auditorium. The new Bangor arena and civic center currently under construction is scheduled to open on Labor Day weekend 2013.