Maine Basketball Hall of Fame coming to Cross Insurance Center, first class to be announced next month
BANGOR, Maine — The first class in the new Maine Basketball Hall of Fame will be introduced in a formal ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 21, officials announced during a news conference Wednesday at the site of the hall’s new permanent home, the Cross Insurance Center.
The Hall of Fame will be located on the second-floor concourse of the Cross Insurance Center, just inside the facility’s southwest entrance, and more than 30 people will be inducted in August, according to Tony Hamlin, chairman of the selection committee.
The inaugural class will include 15-16 players, five or six coaches, a referee, a team and a longtime contributor to the sport who isn’t necessarily a player, coach or official, as well as a group of 8-12 who were involved in basketball in some capacity before the 1950s.
The names will be announced in approximately a month to coincide with the end of the basketball tournaments.
The press conference speakers included Hamlin, who is also on the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame’s board of directors; Steve Pound, chairman of the hall’s board of directors; board treasurer Charlie Wootton, who is executive vice president of primary sponsor First Bank; Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague; and board member Emily Ellis.
Former Lubec High School and University of Maine star Paul Cook, a member of the board of directors and the selection committee, said the inductees recently were chosen during a session at Colby College in Waterville.
Committee members were asked to submit a list of 20 players and five or six coaches, along with a few referees.
“What was neat about it was I have my eastern Maine perspective and I had a chance to listen to people from other parts of the state and their perspective and we connected them and hashed it out,” said Cook. “We came up with a real good list of people.”
“There was a lot of basketball experience in that room,” said Hamlin.
Cook and Hamlin were two of the people who are on the board of directors and the selection committee. Not everyone was on both.
The players considered must have concluded their playing careers at least 20 years ago. Coaches who are from Maine or who have coached in Maine for at least 20 years were immediately eligible, even if they are still coaching, while coaches who coached less than 10 years have a 10-year waiting period after they conclude their careers.
The coaches could have had the majority of their success out of state.
There were no stipulations put on the referees or contributors.
Hamlin said the 20-year grace period after a player’s career ended was important because “you want to make sure the older players get in while they’re still here.”
Cook said the selection process was enjoyable and enlightening “but it wasn’t easy.”
“There were six, seven or eight people that everybody agreed on. They were the low-hanging fruit. There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion about them,” he said.
But he said there was a lot of discussion pertaining to the other potential inductees.
“Sometimes it would come down to someone who had three state championships [being chosen over someone with fewer],” said Cook.
He also noted that anyone on the committee who was related to a potential inductee was asked to leave the room when the relative was discussed.
The players did not have to play their high school basketball in Maine.
For example, Hamlin mentioned that former University of Maine star Rufus Harris could be in the running although he is from Framingham, Mass.
Speakers mentioned how the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame was long overdue and how it became a reality due to a collaborative effort. They also expressed their pleasure with the beauty of the new Cross Insurance Center while also recalling memories from the old Bangor Auditorium.
Sprague mentioned how delighted the city of Bangor is to have the Hall of Fame in the Cross Insurance Center and how it will attract people from across the state.
Wootton said First Bank has made a $70,000 commitment over five years to the hall and that a new branch opened in Bangor a year ago.
“We wanted to find new ways to participate in the Greater Bangor community and this made sense,” said Wootton, who is hoping to land more corporate sponsors for the venture.
The inductees will have their names on a plaque in the concourse and they will receive Hall of Fame rings.
There are a number of fundraising events for the hall, including a golf tournament at the Aroostook Valley Country Club in Fort Fairfield on Aug. 2.
There will be inductions every year.