Portland Pirates Season Ticketholders Devasted By Team's Decision to Re-Locate

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Mike McKenna often raved about the city of Portland. Now it looks as though the city is losing it's AHL franchise. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News.
The decision came swiftly and without warning to fans, players and team staff alike Wednesday afternoon.

The Portland Pirates - American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the NHL's Florida Panthers - announced they have signed a letter of intent to re-locate the franchise. The following is from the Pirates' press release on Wednesday:
The Portland Pirates have announced that a letter of intent has been signed with an outsider buyer to purchase and relocate the AHL franchise to a new city. The details of the agreement were not disclosed and final sale is pending approval of the AHL Board of Governors and the Florida Panthers.
Several reports indicate that the Pirates will be moving to Springfield, Mass. where just a few weeks ago the Arizona Coyotes purchased their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, for the purpose of re-locating the team to Tucson, Arizona.

The swift decision has left Pirates' fans both devastated and upset. For Portland, Maine residents like Brad Perry, losing the hometown team after 23 years is something he simply hasn't ever experienced.

"It sucks when they have been here literally as long as you have been alive," the 23-year-old said, recalling going to Pirates games for as long as he could remember.

"It's definitely a huge part of why I love hockey so much," Perry added. "[They've] been here for so long and it's such a big part of the community, regardless of the attendance. Go anywhere and people are talking about them. And this year was one of their best teams."

Others, like 19-year-old Griffin Germond, have taken to the internet to make one final stand. Germond started an online petition to 'Keep the Pirates in Portland'.

"Even though it seems that we all have our backs up against the wall, the least we can do is try," Germond said of his online petition asking for signatures to keep the team in southern Maine.

Germond wasn't born in Portland, Maine, living the first few years of his life in Georgia before his family moved just outside of the Portland area in nearby Gorham when he was five years old.

"I am 19 now and began going to Pirates games in 2002 at age 6," Germond recalled. "My parents had bought season tickets the first year we were all in Maine."

Now, some 14 years later, Germond is losing the pro team he grew up watching.

"I was devastated. I still am devastated. It came out of nowhere. There was no warning, nothing," Germond explained of his intial reaction when he first learned of the news. "Every person I talked to was completely shocked by it. I've had an attachment to this team for 14 years now. I was very upset, and I can't help but feel upset now too."

When asked about why he started the online petition and what he hopes it will accomplish, Germond's response touched all bases - from a personal level to the impact it will have on the community:
Ultimately, I hope that we have enough signatures to make a difference and enough of a statement to keep the franchise here, in Portland. The deal still has to pass through the AHL and Panthers organizations from what I understand, so I still have faith in the Pirates staying. The Pirates mean a tremendous amount to myself, my family, my friends, my state, businesses, the players, the coaches, the staff, the hockey community and what I think is often overlooked - The younger players and kids that will have something they've always looked up to and aspired to be, taken away from them.


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