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LEWISTON -- The show will go on in Lewiston for the Kora Shrine Circus on Saturday, while the previously scheduled Portland Pirates game -- their final game of the regular season -- has been relocated to the MHG Ice Centre in Saco.
After negotiating for the better part of 24 hours, Androscoggin Bank Colisee management, the Kora Shriners and the Pirates couldn't work out an amenable solution to keep both events at the Colisee on Saturday.
"After reviewing options and choices and consulting with other venues and all other people involved, we were unable to meet everyone's requirements," said Jim Cain, president of Firland Management and owner of the Colisee. "It was determined then that the best choice would be to play the game in Saco."
The MHG Ice Centre is owned by the Maine Hockey Group, headed by the majority owner of the Portland Pirates, Ron Cain, who also operates the Portland Junior Pirates Program out of the same arena. The AHL Pirates also practice out of the Saco facility.
But practices and junior games don't require the same level of lighting, staffing and electronic amenities as a full-fledged AHL game. To that end, Jim Cain said the Colisee staff will help in any way possible to make the transition go more smoothly.
That includes ticketing, supplies and perhaps goal lights, Jim Cain said.
According to a news release from the Pirates on Tuesday, all tickets originally purchased for the April 19 game will be refunded at the point of purchase in full. Season-ticket holders can have their ticket value from the game applied as a credit to the 2014-15 season or can obtain a refund for the ticket value of the game by calling the Pirates' office at (207) 828-4665.
The Pirates will make 400 tickets available for the game at MHG Ice Centre, obtainable by calling the Pirates' office at (207) 828- 4665 before 5 p.m. Friday. No day-of-game tickets will be available. All proceeds from the tickets sold for the game will be donated to the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital. Flex tickets cannot be redeemed for this game.
"We'd like to thank both the American Hockey League and St. John's for being so accommodating with this unexpected change in venue," Brad Church, Pirates' chief operating officer, said in the release. "While we are disappointed that our time in Lewiston will be cut short, we are glad that we can use this opportunity to give to a great cause in the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital."
In a written statement issued by the Kora Shrine Temple, recorder Paul Sherman said, "We are pleased that the issue has been resolved and we thank the management at the Colisee and the Pirates for reaching a deal which we feel, under the circumstances, is best for all concerned." And, he said, the Shriners "look forward to continuing our good relationship with the Colisee for many years to come."
The scheduling conflict arose earlier in the hockey season. Originally, the Pirates, an affiliate of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, were slated to play the first 12 to 15 home games of the season at the Colisee while the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland was renovated. A dispute over a lease agreement between the Pirates and the Civic Center's board of trustees erupted late in the summer, and in September, the team announced it would play its full slate of games at the Colisee.
That schedule included a three-games-in-three-nights, season- ending home stand April 18-20.
The Shrine Circus had already booked its dates in Lewiston as part of an agreement with the Colisee.
Earlier this month, the team announced it would reschedule its Friday and Sunday games to other dates -- the two preceding Wednesdays -- but that it planned to skate against the St. John's IceCaps in Lewiston on Saturday.
The team reiterated that sentiment in a news release Friday, and on Monday, the Colisee and the Shriners again promoted the circus' full slate of shows, including a 7 p.m. show Saturday.
"This is not about naming and finding and attaching blame," Jim Cain said. "Anyone can find a fall guy in any situation if they want to. What we wanted to do was act professionally and get things done. And I feel like we've done that."
The Pirates will return to Portland for the 2014-15 season and have signed a five-year deal with the Cumberland County Civic Center. Wednesday's 7 p.m. game against the Albany Devils at the Colisee will be the team's final home game in Lewiston.
The Kora Shrine Circus has performed in Portland, Lewiston and Augusta every year since 1953, and will appear at the Colisee on Friday and Saturday. Shows in Portland will be performed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and in Augusta on Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26.
All proceeds from the performances benefit Kora Shriners, a fraternal organization that supports the Shriners Hospitals for Children and other charitable programs.
"We had the best efforts of everybody trying to make it work in Lewiston," Jim Cain said. "It just didn't work out, so we'll hold the game in Saco, and we'll move on."