BANGOR, Maine — As more live events return to Maine, arenas and other venues are getting ready for thousands of guests. Bangor relies on the revenue from two larger sites that host sporting events and concerts, and both have events on the schedule for this summer.
Over the past several months, more than 100,000 Mainers have walked the halls and aisles at the Cross Insurance Center, not attending a basketball game or a concert, but getting their COVID-19 vaccine. After closing the clinic this month, the staff is finally ready to get back to the business of entertainment.
"Getting back to events is a feeling that I've been hoping for, for so long,” said Cross Insurance Center’s general manager Tony Vail.
The general manager said the last 17 months have been a challenge.
"Going from nothing, the vax clinic, to now, it was hard,” Vail said.
Crews inside the center are working hard to prepare the place for some events scheduled for this summer. The first event on the agenda: professional bull riding.
"Oh, it's going to be great. We're going to have a great time and I think it will be electric,” said bull rider Grayson Cole. "That was my first time up in Maine period and I thought it was so cool up there."
Staring July 2, Cole and other riders will be back in Bangor for a three-day event.
"I was just in Colorado last week, so I have my cowboy shirt to kick off the professional bull riders in Bangor,” Bangor city council chair Dan Tremble said.
Tremble said more events here help the city.
"Not having to worry about where the money is going to come from to pay the bills as much as we have in the past,” he said.
Across the street from the Cross Insurance Center is Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.
"37 days, four hours until gates open for Luke Bryan. We got a lot to do," Alex Gray with Waterfront Concerts said.
Luke Bryan is scheduled to play at the venue in Bangor on August 5, which will be the first show there after more than 17 months.
"Big impact on area businesses to have that activity in town," Tremble said.
Gray said he didn't think Governor Mills would give his team the green light to open back up this summer, “but here we go, and we are working hard to get ready and bring music back to Maine."
A list of major upgrades is in the works at the pavilion. All of those upgrades won’t be ready for August but Gray said his team will keep improving the venue to improve the concert-goer's experience.
"And we really know until we are done with this process of constructing a world-class venue here in Maine, that that's going to be an ongoing effort no matter what we do,” Gray said.
"They are excited to have those people coming to town to stay at the hotels, to go out to eat, to have that activity around town will be great," said Tremble.
Gray said the biggest challenge he is having right now is recruiting workers to help with concert days.
"It takes an incredible amount of staffing to run these venues, especially large venues like the Cross Insurance Center across the street, the management company there, or us here at the Darling's Waterfront Pavilion,” said Gray.
If you would like to apply for a job at Darling’s Pavilion Center in Bangor, click here.