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Maine GOP convention returning to Bangor for first time since 1996

Brian Feulner | BDN
Brian Feulner | BDN
Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, pictured April 3, 2013.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Republican Party has chosen Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center as the site of its 2014 state convention, marking the first time the GOP has met in Bangor since the mid-1990s.

Convention organizers said the new facility on Main Street is perfect for their purposes while Nelson Durgin, the city’s mayor, said attracting events such as this are one of the major reasons the facility was built in the first place.

The Cross Center was one of three locations, along with Le Colisee in Lewiston and the Augusta Civic Center, that was under consideration. The Bangor site was chosen by nearly 80 percent of the 69 members of state committee who voted on Saturday, after being visited by a GOP search committee. Members from all of Maine’s 16 counties supported the decision.

Vic Berardelli of Newburgh, who represents Penobscot County on the state committee, said the facility is ideal because it has two large rooms where caucuses from both the 1st and 2nd U.S. House districts can meet simultaneously. It also has 18 breakout rooms that can accommodate meetings from all 16 counties at once.

The convention usually attracts around 2,000 people and an ample number of hotel rooms within a 20-minute drive was another draw, he said.

“This will be the first major convention at the Cross Center and it will showcase what is available in Bangor,” he said. “Bangor is now equipped to hold a convention for [2,000] or 3,000 people. Even if someone doesn’t care about the Republican party, they’ll realize that this is a big deal for the Queen City.”

Bangor Mayor Nelson Durgin agreed.

“One of the things we’ve been anticipating is that organizations like the political parties will want to come back to Bangor,” said Durgin. “They haven’t been able to use the old facility because of the lack of amenities, and the new building is specifically built for that. These are exactly the types of groups we’d like to have here.”

The 2014 Maine State Republican Convention is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of April 25-27, 2014. According to Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett, the last GOP convention held in Bangor took place in 1996.

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