February 11

Cumberland County Civic Center renovations provide newer, bigger, more

After 15 months of work, the civic center will reopen this weekend to host a home and garden show.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Joe Tipsword, who works for E.S. Boulos Co., installs a light at the Cumberland County Civic Center on Monday. The 15-month renovation is nearing its end as the civic center prepares to open for the 24th annual Maine Home, Remodeling and Garden Show this weekend.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The $34 million renovation of the Cumberland County Civic Center includes a lot of glass at the enclosed corners, creating spaces that can be closed off for various purposes.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

And the open courtyards are now enclosed. Adding those spaces at the corners of the civic center softened the jagged edges of the 1970s design, and added 37,408 square feet of indoor space.

The expanded truck bay area is also enclosed, so workers can close the doors to the street once the trucks pull inside. In the past, the arena lost heat whenever a truck pulled in.

Perhaps the most notable change is the number of women’s restrooms. The renovated building has 76 toilets in the women’s restrooms, compared with 30 in the past. The entire facility now has 173 toilets, up from 86.

Before the renovation, when long lines for the restrooms stretched into the concourse, “It was terrible!” said Wright, the marketing director. She pointed out a new “family” restroom in the lobby, and expanded women’s rooms in the corners of the building.

“There are more (toilets) in this one bathroom than there were in the entire facility before,” she said, leading the tour through one of the expanded women’s rooms.

The arena’s capacity is flexible, with seating for more than 8,000 for some events, depending on the configuration. The capacity for hockey games is about 7,000.

The locker rooms also got a major upgrade, with added space that can handle high school tournaments, which previously posed a problem. Each locker room can be divided by sliding interior walls, creating as many as 70 individual locker rooms if needed.

Another big change is the more than half-dozen flexible spaces throughout the building, some on the second floor overlooking Portland Harbor, others in the main lobby, that can be used for private events or promotions.

The one with the best view, on the second floor at the corner of Spring and Center streets, is called the Port Pavilion, said Wright. It is part of the public venue but can be closed off for a private event, and it has stairs to the backstage area so a performer can use it.

Wright said, “It may be the little bit more we can offer to keep us in the game” and make the venue more attractive for big acts.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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