So this is it. It’s over now. The Mecca, the mountain top, our Colliseum, has heard its last roar, witnessed its last season of realized dreams and glorious moments. It shouldn’t be this hard to let go. The building has served its purpose, and it’s about time Eastern Maine moved into the “modern world,” with a “state of the art” facility. After 58 years the roof leaked, parts of the floor were dead. But isn’t that a rather cold assessment? (Come to think of it, cold was another issue!) Is a physical structure simply steel and bleachers? No, rather it is an embodiment of all that took place within its walls..not unlike witnessing the demise of the house you grew up in. Now that’s the stuff…
Were you a parent, were you a player, playing before the biggest crowd you had ever seen? Were you from Van Buren, or Katahdin or the County, truly making a pilgrimage of many hours to represent your school? Were you a child at the first game you saw, cheering on your heros, secretly hoping that someday, maybe someday, you might get chance to tread upon that sacred floor? Or were you the rarest of the rare, a player who ascended the mountain and claimed a state title? In any of these cases, you couldn’t stay away. What was it that made you go back year after year? The auditorium left its mark on us. How else can we explain why, years after our last child has graduated, a decade (or two) after we played our last game, and in spite of hostile weather, we return again? There is a quote from Jacques Barzun that says, “If you want to know the heart and mind of America, learn the game of baseball.” I propose a similar statement. If you want to know the heart of Maine, spend tournament week at the Bangor Auditorium.
No other building in the state (apologies to the state house) captures our communites, our passions, and our culture more acutely. There are few experiences more thrilling than standing passionately alongside your neighbor, barber, teacher, or grocer in support of your town, your team, and your young athletes. There is a purity and joy in this experience, apart from the lens of cynicism through which we perceive the college and professional ranks. Whether as a player, coach or parent, to attend a game at the Bangor Auditorium was to experience everything good that sports has to offer. Simply making the tournament could galvanize a community; and if we won it all, we all could stand a bit straighter and prouder.
So what happens to our memories, now that they are no longer held in suspended animation, in the grand old building? It is often said that change is inevitable. Time moves on and the world moves with it. No one can dispute that need for change, for the new building with be a vast improvement over the old.
It will take time, a period of mourning perhaps, a season of grief, before we fully are able to detach and accept the new. I for one, will create in my mind a special place. It will be a cavernous space where the roof leaks and the nets are brand new, and every time I look up, I see my community, every seat taken all way up to the top. It is a wonderful place. It is Maine.
- Jon Moro, Camden-Rockport class of 1999