General Portland Discussion

Portlander

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I'm not in the camp that feels that the costs were a total waste. Would I have preferred a brand new 10,000 fixed seat arena, without question. But the improvements that were made to the building were significant and it went from the feeling of being in a large high school gymnasium to a venue with new seating, corner suites, additional restrooms, bigger locker rooms, enlarged box office area, removal of the suicide stairs, added space for meetings, wider concourses, new ice system, much improved loading dock and backstage space, new artist dressing rooms, moveable riser seating to allow the end stage to be positioned further back for concerts, and numerous cosmetic improvements including new paint and tile. The arena went from a score of 3.5 to a solid 8 when compared to similar sized venues in my opinion.
 
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TC_zoid

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I'm not in the camp that feels that the costs were a total waste. Would I have preferred a brand new 10,000 fixed seat arena, without question. But the improvements that were made to the building were significant and it went from the feeling of being in a large high school auditorium to a venue with new seating, corner suites, additional restrooms, bigger locker rooms, enlarged box office area, removal of the suicide stairs, added space for meetings, wider concourses, new ice system, much improved loading dock and backstage space, new artist dressing rooms, moveable riser seating to allow the end stage to be positioned further back for concerts, and numerous cosmetic improvements including new paint and tile. The arena went from a score of 3.5 to a solid 8 when compared to similar sized venues in my opinion.
Agreed. But the customer experience rules all. Without them, you have an empty building. When I go to Red Sox games now with my brothers, we stand at the bar behind the pizza tables above the Green Monster. The view is 360 degrees of the city as we watch the game. I did something similar with friends at a concert at the State Theatre last year. Yes, standing at a bar that is in the middle of the seating, or not hidden behind a wall. Much of the event is now about drinking and eating, and it has to be convenient.
 

DanielPWM19

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I love the comment about parking garages and what people are really saying is there's no easy/free parking in front of their destination. Parking garages can be super handy if you're in a pinch. Just park your car, you'll save time instead of driving around the Old Port 8 times. It's possible that many of these garages are empty due to a lot of people working from home. When I worked at TD Bank downtown years ago, they leased parking from the old public market.

At any rate, I've long been a supporter of ripping down the CCCC, including the garage, Maine Health building, and Holiday Inn and replace it with something taller and more attractive.

This said, part of me is thinking - WHAT IF Port Properties partnered with Northeastern/Roux Inst and will do a land swap???? A boy can dream maybe.
 

TC_zoid

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Here's (link) what the Indiana Pacers had to do to make their 21-year-old arena relevant again -- $360 million. CIA would have to spend at least half this amount for a similar fix. That's never happening. It's primarily about experiencing food and drink in a new way today. The "new" CIA completely fails in this regard. The current remodel will sit as a failure (look at the events scheduled--pathetic) until it is either renovated again or razed and a new one replaces it--but not downtown. I think the best or realistic solution now is yes, another bond, and a partnership with Rock Row (and Live Nation) with building a 10,000 seat arena that is designed around eating and drinking, with the sports playing surfaces and stage designed almost as an afterthought. It's what we like to do today -- eat, eat, eat, drink, drink, drink. Rock Row does have an 8,300 seat concert and conference center planned with Live Nation, but even that is not enough capacity. The 10,000 number (maybe even 11,000) needs to be achieved, and it should have a basketball court. I think the days of hockey and events on ice in a large capacity venue are behind us, or until we want to pay for it. The county will have to bite the financial bullet for this and spend the money, otherwise, decades of underperformance will continue. Maybe the "Wex Center"? Surely, they could cough up $10 million for naming rights. Easily. I'd fill in the nasty eyesore pit (though only half-way) and build it on top.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/timnew...xperiences-in-existing-arena/?sh=2067647c284d
 
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PWMFlyer

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I have been in the concert/entertainment industry for over 20 years and seen many changes in the industry. The CCCC back in 77 was the new kid on the block. Modern amenities for that time. The building was designed for the area population and was attracting acts from AC/DC to Barry Manilow. Boston had the Garden which was an issue for acts at that time. Loading docks, dressing rooms, and hospitality. The CCCC drew acts away from Boston until the Centrum came online then the Fleet Centre replaced the old garden. More seats don't always attract acts. It's the overhead the promoter has the absorb. When Tom Petty came to Portland, the promoter lost money. Expenses that ranged from the Union labor bill to any other items that go on the settlement. Remember, the act always gets paid first. This is why tickets are expensive. Beer sales and concessions are the big money maker for CCCC and not the seats. The CCCC does get a cut, but the promoter gets the rest.
The SNHU area is an example of bad design and planning. That arena (10,000) sits empty 75% of the time. It loses money because when Disney on ice or SSL come, 50% of the seats are draped off vs the CCCC can utilize the building in a better way. Before covid, the CIA was in the black booking events that fit this market and arena. The arena makes more money on beer sales for a Toby Keith concert than all of the Pirates/Mariners games combined. Another note, the acts love coming to Portland for its food scene, stores, waterfront, etc.
 

TC_zoid

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I have been in the concert/entertainment industry for over 20 years and seen many changes in the industry. The CCCC back in 77 was the new kid on the block. Modern amenities for that time. The building was designed for the area population and was attracting acts from AC/DC to Barry Manilow. Boston had the Garden which was an issue for acts at that time. Loading docks, dressing rooms, and hospitality. The CCCC drew acts away from Boston until the Centrum came online then the Fleet Centre replaced the old garden. More seats don't always attract acts. It's the overhead the promoter has the absorb. When Tom Petty came to Portland, the promoter lost money. Expenses that ranged from the Union labor bill to any other items that go on the settlement. Remember, the act always gets paid first. This is why tickets are expensive. Beer sales and concessions are the big money maker for CCCC and not the seats. The CCCC does get a cut, but the promoter gets the rest.
The SNHU area is an example of bad design and planning. That arena (10,000) sits empty 75% of the time. It loses money because when Disney on ice or SSL come, 50% of the seats are draped off vs the CCCC can utilize the building in a better way. Before covid, the CIA was in the black booking events that fit this market and arena. The arena makes more money on beer sales for a Toby Keith concert than all of the Pirates/Mariners games combined. Another note, the acts love coming to Portland for its food scene, stores, waterfront, etc.
My work involves consulting and producing media for several notable acts, and I get to go to venues and talk with key personnel. Many of them want money (like the Pacers) to revise their spaces for more dynamic food and drink options. TD Garden renovated their upper levels last year--$110 million. Acts are on a busy tour schedule and don't have time to see an unknown city. They have never heard of Portland, or the East coast one. Nearly all people from New York City westward that I have spoken to do not know what is going on in Portland, Maine -- less than one percent. Yes, Portland had some great days with named rock acts--but that's the past. Live Nation will not bring its acts to Portland without a huge gross (bodies), and today, merchandising is another huge component of the profit model. The more people the bigger the gross of that is. And the State Theatre and Merrill appear to be losing the bigger named acts too. In Bangor this past summer, it was a "who's who" of named acts because of its bigger capacity (10,000). It's not just ticket sales. The more bodies translate to more food and drink and parking fees and merch that is sold. Acts are on a busy schedule. They don't have time to stop and enjoy a city. They don't care.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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I think the days of hockey and events on ice in a large capacity venue are behind us, or until we want to pay for it.
I don't necessarily agree with this. The Maine Mariners sold out their home opener this year (their first sell out ever) and are averaging close to 4,000 per game this season, a sharp increase over last year so far (sure, some of it is pandemic related, but still, pro hockey is not dying here right now).

My kids play hockey, and local interest in youth hockey in the area is reaching new levels not seen since the UMaine championship era in the 90s. The Mariners are doing a great job tapping into that, by having local youth teams practice and play games on the CIA ice sheet in the hours before weekend home games. I'm not talking the quick thing they do in between periods during the game. It's a true hour-long practice or game before Mariners' pre-game warm ups. Almost every time my oldest has one of these practices/games before a Mariners game, we stick around in town to get a sit-down meal and then head to the Mariners game. Because of this, we probably go to 3-5 more games than we otherwise wouldn't attend.

Sure, the Mariners might struggle to fill an 10K-11K seat arena, but that doesn't mean we should relegate them to the 750-seat Troubh Ice Arena or just throw in the towel on pro hockey altogether.

Also, the few "on ice" performance things we've gone to at the CIA in the past two years have been sold out or near sellouts.
 

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Well said PWMFlyer. Many of these new venues which includes stadiums and 18K+ seat arenas have found that focusing more on food, drink and other amenities are creating a partially full seating bowl during the actual events. Too many distractions available with 100 yard bars, luxury suites, restaurants, HD TV monitors every 20 feet and wide open concourses have created an empty feeling for ticket holders who are more interested in seeing the concert or game which also has a negative effect on the performers or participating teams. TC, not sure if your Bangor capacity was for the arena or the outdoor venue. If it's the Maine Savings Amphitheater (16,000) I agree with your assessment on the quantity of music acts that perform there. If you were comparing the two "Cross" arenas their seating capacities are almost identical (5800 fixed seats for Bangor and 6200 for Portland with both exceeding 8300 with the addition of floor seats) and the amount of concerts they host are also limited especially during the summer months. We barely found the money for the 30 million dollar renovation 8 years ago so let us be proud of our humble arena even though few promoters or touring acts have ever heard of our fair city. :)
 
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TC_zoid

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Well said PWMFlyer. Many of these new venues which includes stadiums and 18K+ seat arenas have found that focusing more on food, drink and other amenities are creating a partially full seating bowl during the actual events. Too many distractions available with 100 yard bars, luxury suites, restaurants, HD TV monitors every 20 feet and wide open concourses have created an empty feeling for ticket holders who are more interested in seeing the concert or game which also has a negative effect on the performers or participating teams. TC, not sure if your Bangor capacity was for the arena or the outdoor venue. If it's the Maine Savings Amphitheater (16,000) I agree with your assessment on the quantity of music acts that perform there. If you were comparing the two "Cross" arenas their seating capacities are almost identical (5800 fixed seats for Bangor and 6200 for Portland with both exceeding 8300 with the addition of floor seats) and the amount of concerts they host are also limited especially during the summer months. We barely found the money for the 30 million dollar renovation 8 years ago so let us be proud of our humble arena even though few promoters or touring acts have ever heard of our fair city. :)
I'm only thinking about the outdoor space in Bangor, not the arena. I didn't realize it was up to a 16,000 capacity now. It's why they are getting the big acts. And the acts get ALL the merch profits. Bangor is a good profit -model in the summer for promotors.
 

Portlander

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Agree, and I'm all for a first class outdoor venue in Greater Portland but it would need to be similar in capacity to Bangor's amphitheater and anything less would give promoters other regional options (NH,MA) if they can only bring one show north of Boston.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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I'm only thinking about the outdoor space in Bangor, not the arena. I didn't realize it was up to a 16,000 capacity now. It's why they are getting the big acts. And the acts get ALL the merch profits. Bangor is a good profit -model in the summer for promotors.
That said, from an attendee perspective, Maine Savings Amphitheater is terrible. You can't see the stage except from VIP, in the pit or the first 5-10 rows of the 200s, 300s and lawn. Unless you're 6'5", don't even bother going if you have seats in the red sections below:

1667328568652.png


The beer line and bathroom situation is a bit of an improvement from the pre-permanent set-up. We got in early to the show we went to, so we didn't experience the ingress issues many of our friends experienced, but egress from the venue was atrocious and brought many safety concerns to mind. The whole time I felt like I should be wearing my hard hat and up-to-date with my tetanus shots with all the exposed rusted steel.

I may give it another chance once it's more complete with the right band, but honestly, the only way I truly entertain going back is if we have better seats. Even then, I'd rather drive to Mansfield, MA or Gilford, NH for a superior large concert experience than this place.
 

PWMFlyer

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Most of the concerts Bangor and Boston have put on have been at the CIA at one time. When scheduling acts, it also depends on dates a facility can do. The CIA was in talks with Aerosmith to do 3 days . The only reason Bangor attracts is the open festival feel. Most bands want to perform outside vs inside. You must take in the travel time and load in and load out. If the leg of the tour is in Canada, it is easier to swing down to Bangor. Remember when Garth Brooks played at the CCCC for a week? Its not just about capacity... Live Nation has partnered with Waterfront Concerts, which have brought them to the CIA and Merrill. Everyone I have been with(upstaging, stagecall, etc have been to Portland several times and know Portland is a music venue, we are not NYC which I am glad. The acts we get are well known... didn't Elton John come to the CIA? Tom Petty? KISS? Def Leppard, Tina Turner, the list goes on...
 

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I think TC's point was that Portland for many decades dominated the concert scene due to a new arena in 1977 (ZZ Top) without any serious "indoor" competition until Manchester and Bangor added new facilities. Now the venue is relegated to hosting second tier acts like Chicago and James Taylor at sometimes half house seating configurations. KISS was kind of an anomaly back in 2016 and I went with my girlfriend at the time and it was a great show and sold out. A few acts you forgot, Cher, Stevie Wonder, AC/DC, Billy Joel, Heart, Def Leppard, John Mellencamp, Steve Miller and almost Elvis!
 
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TC_zoid

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Most of the concerts Bangor and Boston have put on have been at the CIA at one time. When scheduling acts, it also depends on dates a facility can do. The CIA was in talks with Aerosmith to do 3 days . The only reason Bangor attracts is the open festival feel. Most bands want to perform outside vs inside. You must take in the travel time and load in and load out. If the leg of the tour is in Canada, it is easier to swing down to Bangor. Remember when Garth Brooks played at the CCCC for a week? Its not just about capacity... Live Nation has partnered with Waterfront Concerts, which have brought them to the CIA and Merrill. Everyone I have been with(upstaging, stagecall, etc have been to Portland several times and know Portland is a music venue, we are not NYC which I am glad. The acts we get are well known... didn't Elton John come to the CIA? Tom Petty? KISS? Def Leppard, Tina Turner, the list goes on...
Those are the old acts and so they need an older population (Mainers!). Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, and Katy Perry are never coming to Portland. I saw Post Malone in Houston last week (was invited to a suite) and I could not believe the semis needed for that show. It was one guy (and one guy for the opening act), and near the end a rapper friend of his for a kind of duet. At least a dozen semis were used to unload/load the stage, lights, etc. The light show was out of this world. Six massive flying saucer-like light/laser discs that could rise, fall, and angle in near endless configurations . The stage ran the length of the floor, and the screen on one end was gigantic (a must). I think that today most acts use the house speakers, of which are those crescent shaped types (but would imagine Aerosmith brings some extra kickers for bass). The State Theater has these though much smaller. It's great clear powerful sound. Go check out the Beatles cover band performing at the State during this coming TG weekend for 3 shows. They are fantastic, and a few songs even sound better than the original. I could not hear any of the words sung by Post Malone. Maybe one or two. Best concert DVD ever made might be U2 in Milan, Italy, recorded beautifully for a DVD release. And stand at the bar in the middle of the floor to watch the Beatles band show. I did that with friends last year. Going again.
 

markhb

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Supposedly the new amphitheater at Rock Row will be outdoors-ish, like Mansfield and Gilford. The thing we've found that makes those venues (as well as the Bank-of-the-Week Pavilion in the Boston Seaport) preferable to the Waterfront facilities is that they enforce no-smoking rules, while Waterfront has no interest. We went to the John Fogerty show at Rock Row and there were a lot of grandparents lighting up stuff-that-wasn't-tobacco.
 

Cosakita18

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Crazy thought here....what if we actually made it possible to build lots of new housing to ease our housing crisis and allow people to move here and bring new blood and new ideas with them...With lots of people from the Boston area moving here...tech companies based in Boston would be more incentivized to open offices or labs here and bring more high-skill, high-paying jobs to Maine...

But no, we need to make sure the ONLY housing we build is 100% affordable but also low-density and 100% green and is operated as a tenants commune
 
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Dr. StrangeHat

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I don't understand why people don't get the concept that if you build attractive market rate units for those that can afford them, they tend to not in-turn take over, renovate and gentrify existing housing stock.
 

PWMFlyer

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I was just at a luncheon with Roux, a lot is happening since starting up 23 months ago. Tech and bio companies are in talks to open offices here or move here. They are housing lots of students and teachers in hotels due to lack of availability. Lots of growth coming soon, stay tuned...
 

GIL

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A likely reason that Port Properties has bought up the majority of buildable sites in Bayside. Hopefully they develop a comprehensive plan for a vibrant new mixed-use, high-density neighborhood to help accommodate sustainable growth — they're well positioned now to help the City core grow exponentially.
 
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