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November 26, 2013

Civic center trustees decline new talks with Pirates

The trustees of the Cumberland County Civic Center declined an offer to resume talks with Portland Pirates hockey team leaders, saying they prefer to take the team's lawsuit to court.

The Portland Press Herald reported the team offered to drop its breach of contract lawsuit if the trustees would agree to return to bargaining by Dec. 3. The team's bid to reopen negotiations was brokered by Chris Hall, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber, who offered to host a meeting between the two sides.

David Barry, a Pierce Atwood attorney representing the trustees, wrote in a response reviewed by the Press Herald that "the judicial forum, and not the Chamber of Commerce, is the appropriate venue for resolution of the Pirates' litigation." The paper reported trustees also took issue with the team's offer to dismiss its lawsuit "without prejudice," a move that would allow the Pirates to pursue similar legal action if dissatisfied with future negotiations. The team's lawsuit argues that a tentative deal reached in April constituted a contractual agreement between the parties. The trustees said in their letter they are confident a court will dismiss those claims.

Before negotiations broke down, the Pirates had planned to play in the civic center in January, after renovations to the building were complete. In late September, the Pirates' managing owner Brian Petrovek announced the team would play its full season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

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