BREWER, Maine — When members of the Brewer City Council toured the new Cross Insurance Center in Bangor recently, they were so impressed they immediately started talking about how they could get a piece of the pie.
“We all had a ‘wow’ moment walking through there,” D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director, said Thursday. “This space is amazing and we decided we wanted to be a part of that.”
“It started like a little rumble,” Brewer Mayor Kevin O’Connell said, describing how the conversation started. “Someone said, ‘Hey, how about this’ and ‘How about that?’ and then ‘What a great idea!’ It just grew from that.”
Main-Boyington knew the city’s economic development office had some unused funds — dedicated for marketing — sitting in the bank and started talking to Pennsylvania-based Global Spectrum, operator of the arena, about a marketing deal.
The proposed seven-year, $455,000 agreement, which breaks down to $65,000 a year, will go before the Brewer City Council on Tuesday evening, with a public hearing held just before they vote.
“We will become one of eight founding partners in the facility,” Main-Boyington said of the Global Spectrum marketing agreement.
“The important thing for our residents to understand is that it isn’t money that is tax-related at all,” she said later. “These are dedicated economic development funds that can only be spent for that purpose.”
The founding partners marketing plan offered to Brewer is the same one that has been offered to businesses in the region, said Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow. Brewer is the first to announce it intends to become a founding partner, she said.
Brewer officials like to market their city in the local region, in northern and southern Maine and outside the state, Main-Boyington said.
The new agreement “really hits all the markets we’re looking at,” she said.
The marketing money will be put to good use by Global Spectrum, a private management firm and subsidiary of cable and Internet giant Comcast that already has an international network, she said.
“We’re going to be in the Russian far east,” Conlow said. “How can you beat that?”
Marketing for the new arena has already reached Canada, said Tanya Pereira, Bangor’s business development specialist, who along with Conlow traveled there in October for a forum geared toward business and energy partnerships between Maine and New Brunswick.
Pereira said many of the Canadian people she ran into were champing at the bit to talk about the Queen City’s new arena.
“As soon as they heard ‘Bangor,’ they immediately started asking questions about the Cross Insurance Center,” she said.
Even though the arena is not scheduled to open until September 2013, Conlow is already extremely proud of the new $65 million facility.
“There is not a bad seat in the house,” she said. “We have a conference center that breaks out into 17 different rooms. This is really a different kind of facility.”
“They thought of everything,” Nicole Gogan, Brewer’s economic development specialist, said of the Cross Center. “It’s really amazing.”
Support from Brewer sends a strong message to city leaders across the river, Bangor City Council Chairman Nelson Durgin said.
“This is not only a Bangor event center. It is going to be something that is going to affect the greater eastern Maine area,” Durgin said. “I think it’s wonderful. In a sense, it’s an affirmation that moves Bangor made are correct and having Brewer come on board shows that Bangor and Brewer can work together.”
“This is such a positive move by the city of Brewer,” Brewer City Manager Steve Bost said. “It sends a clear message that we want to be a part of this regional facility that goes far beyond the borders of the two cities.”
People will not truly understand how incredible the new building is until they get a look inside, Bost said.
“The difference in seeing the inside of the building and the scope of the building is enormous compared to driving by on Main Street,” he said. “It’s really amazing.”
The opening of the new Cross Insurance Center should mimic the economic response from the 1955 opening of the current auditorium.
“When the first Bangor Auditorium was built, that was a fantastic boost to the region,” Main-Boyington said. “This is taking it to the next level.”
The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, at the beginning of the December City Council meeting, to get comments about the founding partners program.
“All persons wishing to make comments or ask questions about this civic partnership and marketing opportunity are encouraged to attend this public hearing,” a legal notice about the hearing states.
Comments may be submitted in writing before the hearing by dropping them off or mailing them to: D’arcy Main-Boyington, economic development director, 80 North Main St., Brewer, ME 04412.