Players, coaches look to make new memories at Cross Insurance Center
Bangor — For decades, when talking to most high school basketball players or coaches, the goal during the regular season always was the same: namely, make it to the Bangor Auditorium. To play at “The Mecca,” as it so often was called.
Now, while the end-of-result goal ultimately is the same, the venue has changed.
With the Bangor Auditorium hosting its final Eastern Maine basketball tournaments last February and the building being demolished in June, a new chapter in the story of high school hoops in the Pine Tree State is being written with the opening of the Cross Insurance Center.
The new 5,400-seat venue officially opened on Sept. 10. And while many have fond memories of “The Mecca” with perhaps their local high school squads raising the coveted gold ball at midcourt, the CIC soon will be pumped full of new memories for a new generation of hoop fans, players and coaches.
By comparison, the Bangor Auditorium, which opened Oct. 1, 1955, was a 5,948-seat arena.
Radio broadcaster Don Shields of WBYA, 105.5 Frank FM, who has covered University of Maine women's basketball games at the CIC and also covers high school games throughout the Midcoast, “loves” the new arena.
“It has a 'Big League' feel to the place,” he said. “I've been to a number of basketball arenas with UMaine and this is among the nicest. Fans will love the place.”
Shields said the real question will be will the new building be as loud as the old Bangor Auditorium.
“I think it will be,” he said. “I also think everyone should go watch a UMaine game and get a feel for the building before the tournament starts.
“The building is awesome and everyone I've talked to loves to play on the floor.”
The Eastern Class B quarterfinals will begin on Valentine's Day, on Friday, Feb. 14. The state Class B boys and girls championships will be on Friday, Feb. 28 at the same venue.
Both the Class A boys and girls state finals will be at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, while both the Class C and D boys and girls state finals will be at the Augusta Civic Center.
Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston, Belfast, Camden Hills, Mount View of Thorndike and Medomak Valley of Waldoboro boys and girls basketball teams compete in the Eastern Class B region.
The CIC is managed by Global Spectrum, a division of Comcast.
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. He has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School.
Mark is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, fantasy sports, the AMC drama "Breaking Bad" and iced coffee.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn and sons Beckett and Austin.
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