BANGOR, Maine — The Lombardi Trophy that the New England Patriots won this year for a fifth time in Super Bowl history will visit the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Saturday, officials said Wednesday.
Bangor and Brewer city officials announced that they will be hosting the trophy from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the center’s grand ballroom. A cheerleader and a team mascot will accompany the trophy and be available for photographs for the first three hours of the event, a Patriots spokesman said.
Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci welcomed the news. He said the trophy is coming in response to an invitation he and the mayors of Brewer and Portland extended in February in response to a reported snub of the team by Gov. Paul LePage, who said he would not invite the team to Augusta.
The letter from the mayors to New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft congratulated the team on its Super Bowl win, and asked if the team would visit and exhibit the Lombardi Trophy in the Cross Insurance facilities in Bangor (Cross Insurance Center) and Portland (Cross Insurance Arena).
“We invited them to Bangor, Maine, and they are coming because the community rolled out the welcome mat,” Baldacci said Wednesday.
“I couldn’t be happier. I am on Cloud 9,” Baldacci added. “I think it’s a show of respect for Bangor, and Bangor welcomes the Patriots with open arms. We are very proud of our city and of our Patriots.”
Brewer Mayor Kevin O’Connell was similarly pleased.
“We are the first community after the team’s visits to Boston and Providence that can view this historic trophy,” O’Connell said. “Roger that — and to the Patriots, thank you for doing a great job.”
Many forces might have prevailed upon the Patriots to bring the trophy to town. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, has been friends with Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick since they attended Phillips Academy of Andover in the 1970s. The congressman was texting the coach within hours before and after New England’s come-from-behind 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last month, said Brendan Conley, Poliquin’s spokesman.
But it wasn’t until a couple weeks later that Poliquin asked Belichick if the organization would bring the trophy to Maine. Polquin’s office had been working on the visit ever since, Conley said.
It was unclear Wednesday whether the trophy would be showcased in Portland. Mayor Ethan Strimling said Portland will “roll out the red carpet” if the trophy is brought there, but he was uncertain as to why the city might not have been included in the visit to Maine.
“I think they found out that I’m a Giants fan,” Strimling joked.
Yasmeen Badich, the marketing manager for the Cross Insurance Center, said in an email that she didn’t know whether the trophy would be going to Portland.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James said in a news release about the visit to Bangor that the organization is “eager to share the Lombardi Trophy.”
“We know that some of our most passionate fans live in Maine,” James said in the statement. “We appreciate the many people who extended invitations to bring the trophy to Bangor.”
The Bangor event is free to the public, but a ticket is required. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Grand Ballroom entrance. Visitors must bring their own cameras. In anticipation of long lines, photos will be limited to one per person or one per group.
The Bangor Home Show is being held at the Cross Insurance Center at the same time as the trophy viewing, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fans should use the Main Street entrances to access the center and park in the Hollywood Casino parking garage or in the lot at the Cross Insurance Center, officials said.
LePage said in February that he would not be inviting the team to the State House and that he has a difficult time “getting over what Bob Kraft did to the state of Connecticut.”
He was referring to when the longtime New England Patriots owner had planned on moving the team to Hartford from Foxborough. But the team reneged on the plan to move to Connecticut’s capital after the Massachusetts Legislature approved incentives following a long political battle that left many thinking Kraft had used Connecticut for leverage.
The Patriots moved into Gillette Stadium, their current home in Foxborough, in 2002 after playing at Foxboro Stadium since 1971.
LePage, a self-professed New York Giants fan who has praised Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as one of the all-time greats, also referenced in February the team’s drafting of tight end Aaron Hernandez as another reason for his dislike of the team. Hernandez had slipped in the 2010 NFL Draft because of character issues in spite of his talent, and then he was convicted in 2015 of the 2013 murder of acquaintance Odin Lloyd.
According to Boston.com, LePage watched the Patriots’ 34-28 Super Bowl overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Super Bowl Sunday despite having previously said he had no plans to watch it.
According to the report, LePage said the Patriots represent “bad business” and lack “character and integrity.”
Several Patriots players, including safety Devin McCourty and tight end Martellus Bennett, have publicly said they would not visit the White House should the team be invited there by President Donald Trump, a LePage ally whom LePage has visited recently. Bennett has since signed with the Green Bay Packers.
In 2002, after New England won its first Super Bowl, Kraft and team members Adam Vinatieri, Lawyer Milloy and Bobby Hamilton made Bass Park in Bangor a stop on the team’s victory tour. They were greeted by an estimated 4,000 fans.