"This isn't about an arena. This is about the region." That's how Cianbro Chairman and CEO Peter Vigue views the development of a replacement for the aging Bangor Auditorium in Bangor, Maine, a project for which Cianbro has been chosen as the construction manager at-risk by the Finance Committee of the City Council. The full Council is expected to give final approval to Cianbro's nomination next week.
"We'll be working closely with the architect, the City, and stakeholders to make sure that the new arena will be a high-quality showcase, and will cost what we say it will cost," says Vigue. "Cianbro is excited to be a part of the preparations because we feel the Bangor-Brewer area is ripe for growth and opportunity in the next 10 to 20 years, and the arena is a keystone in the continued redevelopment of the area."
Vigue says the development of a new arena and adjacent facilities will help to provide a foundation for regional growth. He points out that the region has numerous advantages, including a skilled workforce, a large inventory of affordable housing, high quality educational institutions, first-rate medical centers, research facilities, access to the ocean and a beautiful coastline, lakes, mountains, and an international airport, to name a few attributes. Vigue says the new arena is but one step in the redevelopment of the northern part of Maine. "Many things need to be done. This is just one thing, and it will take all of us working together to revitalize this part of the state" Vigue says.
In response to critics of the new arena project, Vigue says it's unfortunate that many citizens in the area are skeptical of the ability of the region to bloom economically. "People don't think we can succeed," he says. "We're always so down on ourselves. But we have to create a vision of what we're going to look like in the future. Some people say that if you build a new arena, an audience will still be hard to find. I say just look at the Folk Festival. Tens of thousands of people come to Bangor every year for that. If you own a hotel or a restaurant, will a new arena improve your situation? If you are a visitor coming to Bangor for an event at the arena, are you going to go shopping or eat at a restaurant?"
Vigue says redevelopment of Bangor's convention facilities is a logical next step, making full use of the city's golf course, Hollywood Slots, and the horse racing track at Bass Park to attract business meetings and conventions to the region. Once the flow of conventions begins, Vigue envisions an upturn in the usage of Bangor International Airport, local car rental businesses, food and lodging establishments, and shopping. Vigue says three new hotels have sprung up in the Bangor-Brewer region in the past three years. He says he can all but guarantee that more hotels will rise if the arena is built.
"It's the old story -- build and they will come," says Vigue. "The Bangor-Brewer area was once a leader in many ways, the lumber capital of the world, the site of the first TV station north of Boston, and indeed, when the Bangor Auditorium was first built, it was the largest facility of its type north of Boston. We can recapture that leadership position, if we have the vision, the commitment and the cooperation to pursue the goal."