BANGOR, Maine — The new Cross Insurance Center received high marks for comfort and quality Friday, though some patrons noted that concessions were a little more costly than they were used to seeing in the region.
Friday’s appearance of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters was the first ticketed event to be held in the new state-of-the-art arena.
Though events have been held there since as early as June, many of those who bought tickets to Friday’s Globetrotters event were seeing the new facility for the first time. By all accounts, the new arena is far superior to the nearly 60-year-old facility that preceded it.
“You can’t even compare the two,” said Jeffrey Hope of Bangor, who brought his whole family to the Cross Center for its public debut.
“It’s just amazing. I was a little concerned early on because of a potential burden on Bangor taxpayers but the more you see, the more you like. We’re going to have a lot of opportunities to see more really first-class shows. There are shows that we’re going to see that absolutely would not have come [to the Bangor Auditorium].
“The seats are so much more comfortable and the audio is so much better. There were times at the old auditorium where you couldn’t hear and you were uncomfortable. That hasn’t been the case from what I’ve seen so far,” he said. “I’m hoping that it really helps the whole region because the Bangor taxpayers pay for a lot of services. I hope it spreads out and helps Bangor businesses as well. I’m crossing my fingers that this brings money into the region.
Although ticket holders were lined up at the doors more than an hour before the Globetrotters’ start time, fewer than half of the arena’s 5,800 seats were filled Friday night.
Danielle Durel of Bangor said the first major public event was “a little disorganized,” but attributed that to the venue’s newness.
Durel said that she initially was told that Friday night’s show was free for children aged 4 and younger, but when she arrived, she learned that free admission was for those who are 1 or younger, “which was not a big deal because we have money but it would have been bad for families that don’t.
“Our daughter, Terreana, is cheering so we paid less than it normally would have been. We paid $18 [per ticket], which I think was fair,” she said. A few other bugs that will need to be worked include a ketchup dispenser that didn’t work and inexperienced beer servers who pour as much beer as foam into her husband’s cup.
Otherwise, however, she liked what she saw.
“I love the auditorium. I’m very, very excited by it. It’s really nice and so far, so good. I just hope everything goes well,” she said, adding that she and her family will be back.
Todd Gabe of Bangor, a University of Maine economics professor, also liked what he saw.
“The value for the ticket price is pretty good,” Gabe said. “We spent about $35 for our tickets. I think that’s certainly a good ticket price for this market and what you would expect to pay at a comparable venue in other places similar to Bangor. And the food — we’re excited to go out and see what they have for concessions.”
Choices from the Cross Center’s seven full-time concessions and portable concessionaires range from tapas to baked Maine potatoes and popcorn, hot dogs and beer.
Tim and Abbie Harmon of Dover-Foxcroft brought their 10-year-old son, Noah, to his first Globetrotters game Friday night.
Tim Harmon said the ticket prices were “reasonable but a little bit on the higher end for the food. I like the free refill on the popcorn. I think that’s a good idea.”
As far as the venue itself? “I haven’t had a chance to check it out too much but so far, so good,” he said.