Prodigal Pirates Come Home

The Portland, Maine, Pirates of the American Hockey League will return to its old home ice at  next season, after moving its current season’s home games to a neighboring venue when lease negotiations snagged.

In the meantime, the Pirates will finish out the 2013-14 season at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine, where attendance has plummeted to worst in the league.

With a new, five-year lease agreement, the Pirates return to Portland and end a months-long dispute over a new lease, culminating in the club ending negotiations and filing a lawsuit against the Civic Center over the lease terms.

The deadlock ended with owner Ron Cain announcing in August he’d acquired a majority interest in the team and dropped the suit.

He acknowledged the protracted dispute tried the patience of fans.

“We absolutely know that this was kind of a scorch-the-earth event and we need to do something to earn it back, and to give back to the fans,” Cain told reporters.

The team returns just in time to benefit from a $34 million renovation at the Civic Center.

The lease calls for the Pirates to get 57.5 percent of revenue from food, drink and alcohol sales on game nights, assuming the state legislature changes liquor laws to allow the venue to share liquor revenue.

The bill already has been approved by a committee and awaits further action.

If the legislation fails, then the Pirates would get 65 percent of concession revenues and no revenue from alcohol sales, officials said.