PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Springfield Thunderbirds, formerly known as the Portland Pirates, are playing on their home ice for the first time this weekend. And while the thought of no professional hockey in Portland this season may leave a hole in the hearts of local fans, the Cross Insurance Arena isn't suffering.
Board members say that financially speaking, profits have increased since the Pirates left, though they won't have hard numbers on how much until spring. They say compared to last year, they are ahead in the number of events scheduled at this time.
No professional games has also translated to more ice time for high school kids. The number of teams scheduling practice and games at the facility is up as well.
Still, board members are very open to bringing back a professional hockey team, so long as the numbers add up for taxpayers.
Board members say they will also take into consideration the economic impact a new sports team could have on businesses. They say historically, the Cross Arena has generated about $15 million a year for the local economy.