Circus, Hockey Faceoff

No one had to go to the penalty box or clean the elephant cage with the resolution of an April 19 scheduling conflict between a hockey team and a circus at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. 

The Kora Shrine Circus and Portland Pirates minor league hockey team both claimed a 7 p.m. date at the 4,500-seat arena. Initially, neither seemed willing to budge. After 24 hours of negotiations, the parties still couldn’t hammer out a way to allow both events to take place the same day.

The scheduling conflict reportedly arose early in the hockey season. The Pirates were to play the first 12 to 15 home games at the Colisee while the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, was renovated. But a lease dispute in August resulted in the Pirates announcing it would complete its season in Lewiston. By then, the circus had booked an April 19 show.

Though the team announced it would move its April 18 and 20 games to other dates, it announced it would not move the disputed date, while the arena and the Shriners continued to promote the circus at the same time.

In the end, venue management announced the circus would keep its date, and the Pirates would relocate to MHG Ice Centre in nearby Saco to play their season finale. The Pirates, who play in the American Hockey League, already use the venue as a practice facility.

“After reviewing options and choices and consulting with other venues and all other people involved, we were unable to meet everyone’s requirements,” Jim Cain, president of Firland Management that owns the Colisee, told the local Sun-Journal.

But the Ice Center is not equipped with the level of lighting, staffing and electronic amenities expected at an AHL facility, so Cain told the paper the Colisee staff will assist with the transition including ticketing and perhaps goal lights, according to the paper.

“Anyone can find a fall guy in any situation if they want to,” Cain said of the faceoff. “What we wanted to do was act professionally and get things done. And I feel like we’ve done that.”