Here's a trivia question about the Bangor Auditorium or the "Mecca" or the "Old Barn" as many have referred to the historical Bangor basketball landmark: Since it opened in 1955 what two organizations have used the Bangor Auditorium every year?
Having spent 21 years as a basketball coach whose Bangor High School teams (1969-77) and John Bapst Memorial High School teams (1987-2000) practiced regularly and played all of their home games there, I have lots of experience with the playing facility.
Currently, the Maine Principals' Association does not allow teams to practice at the site until state championship games and that one practice is at the school's expense.
The advantages of playing games there are the larger crowds, the excitement of the tournament and the rich tradition. The disadvantages are the portable backboards, the shooting background and the portable floor, which has some dead spots. The shooting depth will effect teams more if they rely heavily on the 3-point shot.
Teams that do not get the opportunity to practice or play there probably should remind themselves that the court is 84 feet by 50 feet and the basket is 10 feet from the floor and the basket is 18 inches in diameter just like most high school gyms in Eastern Maine.
If I was coaching a tourney-contending team today, I would try to prepare for the Auditorium by getting my team on a court that has a portable floor, portable backboards and a similar type of depth and distance behind the baskets such as Alfond Arena, the Augusta Civic Center, the Portland Expo or the Cumberland Community Civic Center.
Before I started coaching at Bangor, the team got nine practice sessions on the Auditorium floor, one for each home game, but when I coached at Bangor we got to practice at the Auditorium whenever the floor was down. It reverted to the original policy when I left Bangor in 1977 and stayed that way when I was at John Bapst.
In early 1980s, Bangor moved its home games to Bangor High School to reduce costs. I was the athletic director at the time and did not recommend that decision as there is limited parking and only bleachers at the high school. From 1969-77, it was nothing to sell more than 1,000 regular-season adult tickets for the Auditorium stadium seats and to get crowds of more than 4,000 plus for a Bangor-Stearns or Bangor-Brewer game.
When I took the John Bapst job in 1987, I made the same arrangements with the Auditorium I had when I coached at Bangor so that Bapst could return and practice full time there as they still played their home games there.
The biggest complaint about John Bapst using the Auditorium revolves around tourney time as many claim Bapst has an unfair advantage.
However, there are currently no complaints about it for Bapst teams. This only happens when they win an Eastern Maine title as the Bapst boys did in 1989, 1990 and 1993.
In the 21 years my teams practiced and played at the Auditorium we only won three Eastern Maine championships for a winning percentage of 14.3. We had the best team those three seasons, regardless of where we played.
In fact, from 1955 to 1969 the only times Bangor won Eastern Maine titles playing their home games and having one practice for each home game was in 1956, 1959 and 1962. There were no Bangor Eastern Maine championships from 1962 to 1985. Since they have been at Bangor High School, Bangor's first Eastern Maine championship was in 1992 and its first state championship was in 1993. They have won nine Eastern Maine titles and seven state titles since practicing and playing at Bangor High School and they won eight of those Eastern Maine championships at the Bangor Auditorium.
Answer to trivia question: the MPA basketball tournaments and John Bapst Memorial High School.
Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and is a basketball official.