By Brian Swartz
Weekly Staff Editor
BANGOR — The official entertainment schedule starts this weekend at the Cross Insurance Center, but much activity has already taken place inside the $65 million complex on Main Street.
Normally appearing in Bangor in March, the Harlem Globetrotters will kick off the CIC’s 2013-14 entertainment season with a Sept. 20-21 appearance at the arena ( see sidebar). The team’s appearance will be part of the Cross Insurance Center’s grand opening, said General Manager Mike Dyer of Global Spectrum, the company that manages the facility.
“We’re looking at the grand opening being over the course of two or three months, as being the culmination of a bunch events,” he said.
The Penobscot County Conservation Association sponsored a Sept. 7-8 gun show in the CIC’s Arena, and the official ribbon cutting took place at the facility’s Clock Tower on Sept. 10; a gala was held in the convention center that evening. A community open house took place on Sept. 14.
And beyond this weekend, the calendar is filling up, Dyer indicated.
Right behind the Globetrotters will be the Central Maine Derby on Sept. 22, the BDN Maine Events Man Expo will take place Sept. 27-29, Sesame Street Live: Make a New Friend, Oct. 4-6, and a Hank Williams Jr. concert on Oct. 12. The Blue Man Group will perform on Thursday, Oct. 10, to kick off “Broadway’s Best in Bangor,” a four-event series that ends next May with “Mama Mia!” The Greater Bangor Pet Expo will take place Oct. 19-20.
The Cross Insurance Center box office already had started selling tickets for the Nov. 2 Chicago concert when Global Spectrum announced after Labor Day that gospel star Michael W. Smith will bring his Worship Around the World Tour to the CIC on Nov. 1.
Having acts such as the Harlem Globetrotters “contact us about returning to Bangor almost four months before their regular tour opens … shows the power of a new building, what it does to the marketing and promotion people for these groups,” Dyer said. He long managed the Bangor Auditorium and Bangor Civic Center for the city of Bangor and worked with various show promoters over the years.
Global Spectrum manages more than 100 facilities in the United States and works with promoters who handle major and lesser-known acts, Dyer indicated. “Our relationships with the show producers helps,” he said. “Like most business, it’s all about relationships. It pays off; it’s about trust and relationships when someone brings a big show” to Bangor.
“I think that is why the city went with Global Spectrum,” Dyer said. “Even a new building doesn’t pull it all together; whoever manages it must help do so.”
According to Dyer, show promoters are reaching out to Global Spectrum, which is simultaneously marketing the Cross Insurance Center across the country. “Global Spectrum tries to make its buildings in a geographical area available to a particular artist,” he said, noting that Global Spectrum also manages entertainment facilities in Lowell and Springfield in Massachusetts. If an artist can appear at all three locations, that makes northern New England more attractive to that artist’s promoter.
“Part of the thing [that] Global Spectrum brings to the table is the ability to do that,” Dyer said.
The public has not been able to see the behind-the-scenes activity taking place this summer as the Global Spectrum staff readied the Cross Insurance Center for its ongoing grand opening. “We’re all cognizant of that,” said Dyer, referring to knowing that no similar facility has opened in Bangor in more than 50 years.
“It’s special for the city, it’s special for the people working here, it’s special for everybody,” he said.
His staff includes 15 full-time employees and ultimately up to 175 part-time, on-call employees “by the time we’re finished gearing up,” he said. Since the Cross Insurance Center hosted its first unofficial event (the Bangor High School graduation) last spring, “people are just going five different ways at once” and “double-checking with each other” to ensure that the CIC “is all ready to go” he said.
Ovations Food Services, a Global Spectrum affiliate, will manage all food operations, including the six concession stands on the Concourse Level, a portable cart that circulates during events, and the two bars on the Club Level.
According to Dyer, “Ovations has reached out to various local suppliers for products.” On Sept. 3 the Maine Potato Board announced an agreement with Ovations that Maine-grown potatoes will be the official potato of the Cross Insurance Center. The portable cart will feature red W.A. Bean hot dogs. The Cross Insurance Center may feature libations produced by some local breweries.
As for the Cross Insurance Center, Dyer advised keeping an eye on it. Global Spectrum Center announces each new performer; additional information is always available at crossinsurancecenter.com.