BANGOR, Maine — The city’s incoming, outgoing and continuing councilors got a tour of the Cross Insurance Center on Monday night — one staff at the helm of the arena project never get tired of giving.
Jim Ring, who manages the arena project for the city, and Mike Dyer, who recently was named general manager of the Cross Insurance Center, shared details of the facility’s progress during the tour.
“I have more fun going on these tours and seeing how people react, even when things aren’t even finished yet,” Dyer said to one of the councilors during the tour.
The tour took councilors and city staff from everywhere from box suites — each of which will have its own 42-inch television — to the arena floor, to the dressing rooms that will house the stars, to the third-floor bar that overlooks the concourse.
Most of the exterior work has been completed, and workers have moved inside, where Sheetrock is being put up and boxes holding seats are stacked, waiting to be installed.
Ring showed off the building’s large garage doors on the Buck Street side, which allow 18-wheelers to drive into the arena to drop off their load, turn around inside the building, and drive back out to Buck Street.
The kitchen and its staff can serve a 1,200-person dinner in the conference center ballroom while still stocking concessions for events, Dyer said.
“I’m so glad I’m going to be here for opening day,” Councilor Patricia Blanchette said to a fellow councilor. She was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s election, holding onto her seat on the council.
Council newcomer Pauline Civiello and David Nealley, a former councilor making his return, said they were impressed with the $65 million facility. Both were elected in Tuesday’s election. They didn’t find out they were on the council until the morning of the tour.
Civiello was an opponent of the proposal for the new arena, concerned about the lofty price tag and the fact that Bangor residents would be footing the tax bill without assistance from other area communities. Now, she said, she’s anxious to see the arena open so the city can start to see the economic results.
The Cross Insurance Center is expected to have its grand opening sometime after Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013. Bangor High School will have its graduation at the arena on June 9 of 2013 as a “soft opening” test of the facilities, according to Dyer. Early acts will include the Ringling Bros. Circus and Cirque du Soleil.
Demolition of the Bangor Civic Center is scheduled to begin May 20, two days after it hosts its last event — the Northeast Loggers Forest Products Expo.
The new arena and convention center has permanent seating for around 4,000, plus about 1,500 retractable seats and several suites on the third level, Dyer said. For concerts and similar events, the arena can hold more than 8,000 people with extra seating on the arena floor and standing room in front of the stage.
“I think that just about anything that happens in the Northeast, the organizers will be looking at the Cross Insurance Center,” Nealley said.