Editor’s note: Bob Cimbollek was part of a group of Bangor citizens who opposed the building of the new Cross insurance Center and helped organize a referendum vote on whether it should be built.
The new Cross Insurance Center has not received any nicknames yet. The Bangor Auditorium has been called the Barn, the Mecca, and the Ordietorium.
There are many other differences between the two facilities.
Bangor High opened the Auditorium for high school basketball in December of 1955 and the first Eastern Maine L, M and S tourneys were held there in February of 1956.
The Auditorium was built specifically for basketball, while the Cross Center was built as a multi-purpose arena that could be retrofitted to accommodate hockey, unlike the Auditorium.
The Cross Center is a sterile building with little basketball atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful building, but the Auditorium was built to get the fans close to the action.
The Cross Center’s individual soft seats are farther away and are more comfortable but the leg space is cramped to the seats in front of a fan. The Auditorium’s bleachers had more leg space, but certainly were not as comfortable.
For basketball, the Cross Center seats on the end of the court on the bottom of the U-shaped seating are far away, just as the balcony seats were at the Auditorium.
The four scoreboards,at the Cross Center, one on each end and one on each side, are very thin and long. The Auditorium’s two scoreboards at each end of the court were the traditional big scoreboards. Both give the same information, it is just harder to read those at the Cross Center.
The shooting background is more wide open at the Cross Center. The Auditorium had the front and back walls as a good shooting background, thus a more enclosed shooting environment.
The biggest disappointment with the Cross Center for basketball is that the court is college length, 94 by 50 feet. This means the tournament and state games will not be played on a regulation 84 by 50 high school court. This is like the Cumberland County Civic Center and Portland Expo where teams play postseason games on a college floor after playing most games on high school size floors.
The extra 10 feet up and down the court means more distance will have to be covered during a game by the players and conditioning will be a factor. It will also be harder for teams to press full court and to fast break because of the additional 10 feet they will have to cover.
.Now teams that play their normal home games at the Expo and Cross Center will have a definite advantage because they will be used to the college length. Also, teams that have the Expo and Cross Center for their home floors may also practice on these courts.
However, John Bapst Memorial High School’s boys and girls varsity teams practiced daily on the Auditorium’s floor when it was down. With the UMaine men’s and women’s teams and Brewer High school playing home games at the Cross Center, Bapst will not get to practice there as much.
Bangor High School played all of its home games at the Auditorium until the mid-1980’s when it moved its home games to Bangor High School. The only time Bangor will play at the Cross Center is when it plays Brewer.
As the Cross Center starts its first season of high school basketball, let’s hope its first 58 years are as exciting and memorable as the Auditorium.