Lewiston, ME (Sports Network) - The Portland Pirates announced on Thursday that the club will play all home games this season away from the city it had called home for the last 20 years.
"(Part-owner) Ron (Cain) and I are here today to announce that we will be playing our entire 2013-14 38-game home regular season schedule, plus playoffs if our team earns that right, in the building we are all in right now, the historic Androscoggin Bank Colisee," said Pirates managing owner and CEO Brian Petrovek in a press conference announcing the new deal.
"We now turn the page and focus all of our energies, both on and off the ice, on providing a world class professional hockey experience, the American Hockey League, at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee and put real meaning behind 'home ice advantage' as we compete for the first ever Calder Cup in the storied history of this venue in the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn."
Lewiston/Auburn and the Colisee had played host to the Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 2003-11.
Trustees for the Cumberland County Civic Center announced back on April 17, that a new five-year lease with an option for five more had been approved to keep the franchise in Portland. However, team officials accused the trustees of failing to honor those terms, and the ensuing battle has made it into the courts.
"For that reason, Pirates fans should be outraged, but we consider ourselves fortunate that we can now provide them with a venue to see the team play just up the road and for that, we are grateful and determined to make this a success," Petrovek added.
The Pirates arrived in Portland in 1993, after the Baltimore Skipjacks -- previous affiliate for the Washington Capitals -- were relocated and have called southern Maine's largest city home since then. The club has been the AHL farm team of the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and now the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Civic Center has hosted AHL hockey since the Maine Mariners arrived as primary affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1977. The Mariners changed hands to the New Jersey Devils in 1983 and stayed four seasons until the Devils decided to move the club to Utica, NY. A new Mariners franchise was approved in 1987 with the Boston Bruins as the parent club, staying there for five years until departing for Providence, RI following the 1991-92 season.
"Our town is now LA; your team is now the Pirates," Petrovek concluded.