Portland Pirates moving to Springfield next season


PORTLAND (WGME) - A broadside from the Portland Pirates, after more than 20 years in Portland, the team confirms Wednesday night, it's jumping ship.

Team and city officials confirm that the hockey team is sold, breaking its lease, and moving to Springfield, Massachusetts.

This move even took Mayor Ethan Strimling by surprise. He says the first time he heard about the Pirates leaving was from a reporter.

We confirmed the move with the attorney representing the group looking to buy the Pirates.

They told us in a statement Wednesday that the group of investors has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Pirates.

They are working on a definitive agreement to bring the team to Springfield, Massachusetts.

Of course the Pirates picking up and leaving town will have an impact on businesses around the area that see Pirates fans on game nights.

The Pirates leaving town is a potentially very expensive problem for their home, the Cross Insurance Arena, and for taxpayers.

Five years ago, voters in Cumberland County agreed to spend $34 million to fix up the building.

The Pirates had complained for years about the outdated facilities and threatened to leave Portland more than once.

Now, the renovations are done, the team is leaving, and taxpayers are on the hook to pay for them.

That has Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling upset.

Now, the Pirates and the arena are still in the middle of a five year lease.

So it's likely the team will have to pay something to get out of that lease, the board of trustees of the arena meets here Thursday morning at 8 to try to figure out what to do next.

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