BANGOR, Maine — Mike Dyer, director of Bass Park Complex, sat down recently to answer five questions in a new sports feature called “Take Five.”
Dyer and his wife came to Bangor in 1988 after he worked at an arena in New Jersey. He has been here ever since, and has been director of the Bass Park Complex, which includes the current Bangor Auditorium.
It was announced in October by Global Spectrum that he will be the first general manager of the the Auditorium’s replacement, the Cross Insurance Center.
Question: What do you see as your biggest accomplishment so far, or the biggest thing that has occurred during your time here?
Answer: Making it through 24 years? [Laughs], I think just the idea of working with such a dedicated group of people that have enabled us to keep, and this even predates me and the crew here, the ability to keep things coming through these facilities with enough regularity and enough variety to give people the impetus to want to have a new building. And it goes way back.
People always ask me, are you going to miss the old building? I say no, I’m going to miss some of the people who are no longer with us. I’m going to remember a lot of great people who worked with us at a lot of sometimes crazy events, but … predating me back to the Bass Park Corporation era with Joe Pate and Thaxter Trafton before him, there was virtually nothing done in these buildings that did not involve a lot of work, and some of it which shouldn’t have been involved because of the design and everything — lots of compromise on the part of the clients, so to be able to deliver a first-rate experience with the things that the people have come to expect in a facility will be a real pleasure.
Q: The biggest disappointment or most discouraging aspect of your tenure here?
A: For a long time, the most discouraging thing was — I’ll go back a little to my first response — the idea no matter what we tried to do here always involved going back to an act or a show or a promoter and asking them to compromise what they wanted to do. This business is such that things always happen. You just have to just be prepared to go with things that don’t go quite the way they were planned.
As an actual disappointment, if you were talking to me today and we were still looking down the road and saying, “Someday they’ll build that new building.” That would take the prize right there. That would take the cake, that would be my biggest disappointment, that we hadn’t been able to pull it all together to build this building.
I’m telling you, the fact the building, the Cross Insurance Center, is getting built and is almost built makes you forget really quickly the more trying times in the current facility. So, I think there’s probably not one major disappointment. There’s been a lot of small setbacks in shows that, hopefully, once the people saw the show, they didn’t even pick up on the fact things didn’t go exactly as we could have hoped. Those are just temporary little setbacks in a business that’s full of ’em.
Q: What was your biggest surprise about the job or about Bangor after taking the job?
A: I started out, actually, in 1988 working as a marketing director here. I had experience working in ice rinks and public buildings in New Jersey before I moved here. I moved with the idea that I’d never be involved in a public venue again. In some ways, it’s a lot of fun, and in some ways, it’s a lot of work, requires a lot of time.
I had the ability, I was lucky to be able to sit back and start out as the marketing director, step into a more advanced role in the early ’90s, and then the city decided to make Bass Park its own separate department. It had been part of the Parks and Recreation Department. They then went out and hired a director and I worked for that director for a while, then after a year he left, and that’s when I stepped into the director’s position. So I had a chance to learn the ins and outs, the pitfalls.
I had worked in county government for a while, but my most recent experience before I came to Maine was in a private, two-surface hockey rink and there is a difference between the way the private companies do business and the way governments and municipalities do business. I actually came to appreciate what seemed like drawn-out, exasperating process. Get something pointed in the right direction. Then I came to realize that it is a taxpayer property. And in order to do it totally right, sometimes that longer, drawn-out process was important to get it right. We didn’t always get it right, but, more often than not, people got it right in the end.
Q: What were your expectations when you came here?
A: I didn’t have a job, we knew we wanted to get out of New Jersey at some point. I’d been to Maine fishing a lot. So we started up the coast looking for someplace to stay. As I said before, I had no expectations of getting a job in a public facility again. I thought something quaint, like maybe find a job in a boatyard somewhere and build some boats and stuff. It’s a great dream, but it doesn’t really work, and Fiberglas is terribly itchy and everything, so my expectations were, when I took the job here, that it was something I could do. … I knew I wanted to stay in Maine. It wasn’t the kind of thing where I said, yeah I’ll stay here a few years and move on. First and foremost, we wanted to be in Maine, so I was going to find something that would ensure we could stay in Maine. That was my biggest expectation at the time.
Q: What other opportunities or offers did you receive while you’ve been here?
A: The way this business works, there’s a bunch of trade magazines where you can see a lot of different opportunities presenting themselves or out there, but as I alluded to before, my wife and I wanted to stay in Maine, so as long as I was wanted at some point, I was happy to stay. I love the area, I love Bangor.