PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) - Professional hockey is back in Maine! The Maine Mariners, who compete in the Eastern Conference Hockey League, took the ice in their franchise debut Saturday, October 13 at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

The Maine Mariners are expected to bring more bustle to downtown Portland on game days, which means extra business for restaurants and bars surrounding the Cross Insurance Arena.

"I grew up going to the pirates when I was 5 years old with my nana, so I'm super excited that they're back," said Brittany Simpson.

Business owners we spoke to say Portland Pirates games traditionally brought a lot of business on game days and they expect to see the same crowds now that the Mariners’ season has started.

"I think it's going to be huge," said Andrew Hagemeyer, the general manager of the sports bar, Rivalries. "I know what it's been like from what I heard -- busy all the way through the game, busy right before and even catching some business afterwards, so I think it's going to be a really good boost for us."

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The home opener for the @marinersofmaine has fans pumped up! Conor and Torin (sleepyhead) Larsen from Sanford are excited — so are the kids from Biddeford Youth Hockey enjoying the @newscentermaine #STORMCENTER box! #maine #mainemariners #hockey #hockeyisback #mesports #saturday #saturdaynight #saturdayvibes

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NEWS CENTER Maine in partnership with the Maine Mariners, has a STORM CENTER Box at each home game this season.

For each and every Maine Mariners game held at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, the NEWS CENTER Maine STORM CENTER Box is allotting, at no cost, 13 premium seats to 501(c)3 local non-profits, charitable organizations and Maine K-12 sports teams.

How can your 501(c)3 organization or sports team apply to sit in the Box? Use of The NEWS CENTER Maine STORM CENTER Box is always open to new applicants -- click here.