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Portland Exposition Building

Portland, ME

Home of the Maine Red Claws

3.4

3.4

Portland Exposition Building (map it)
239 Park Ave
Portland, ME 04102


Maine Red Claws website

Portland Exposition Building website

Year Opened: 1914

Capacity: 3,100

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Crustacean Nation

The Portland Exposition Building, known locally as “The Expo,” is part of a larger sports complex that includes Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, the Portland Ice Arena, and Fitzpatrick Stadium. The Expo also serves as home to Portland High School basketball teams, track events, trade shows and concerts by artists as diverse as Natalie Merchant, the Monkees, the Beach Boys, James Brown and Janis Joplin. Built in 1914, it is the second oldest arena in continuous operation in the United States, behind only Matthews Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Maine Red Claws are the NBA Development League affiliate of the Boston Celtics. The team has called the Expo home since their inaugural season in 2009. With a capacity of only 3,100, the Expo is the smallest venue in the NBA D-League. The team’s unique name is a tribute to both the local Maine Lobster industry and longtime Celtics’ coach, General Manager and President Arnold “Red” Auerbach. The Red Claws are still awaiting their first playoff win.

For many years the buzz was that the team was just biding time at The Expo until plans for a proposed arena at Thompson Point were finalized. While team officials have not necessarily ruled out a move in the future should this development materialize, plans for a new facility are “not imminent.” The team signed a pair of five-year leases to keep them at The Expo until 2029.

3.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The menu at The Expo features all the basics, with a few unique items thrown in.

Hungry Red Claws fans can choose from the standard hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, and grilled chicken sandwiches sold at most arenas. Local favorite Portland Pie provides the pizza, which is sold by the slice. Rarely seen items such as bratwurst and macaroni and cheese are available, as well as Lobster Rolls (this is Maine, after all).

Fans looking for healthier alternatives can select salads with chicken or lobster, or veggie burgers. Fans looking for something decidedly less healthy can choose from nachos, popcorn, pretzels or mozzarella sticks. Shaker Pond ice cream is sold in many flavors, but the most popular item here may be the Red Claw "Hoopie" pie, a variation on the Whoopie Pie.

A decent variety of adult beverages are sold at Red Claws games, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Shock Top, and local craft brew Gritty McDuff's Red Claw Ale (a must-try). Glasses of wine are also available. Coca-Cola products are featured here.

Atmosphere    4

Anyone who has attended minor league games in any sport will find many familiar aspects here at the Red Claws.

Minor League standards such as 50/50 raffles, t-shirt tosses and giveaways are all here. The game day presentation is geared towards families, with an active mascot roaming the building, a PA guy who keeps things moving along, a dance team and a fan cam that operates throughout much of the game. The highlight for many fans is the Lobster Pot Toss, where fans try and throw soft basketballs into a lobster pot placed at center court.

The far wall of the arena is adorned with banners honoring every Red Claw alumnus who has been called up to the NBA. Also located here is a small scoreboard which still manages to include a video board and all the stats that any fan will need to keep up with the action on the court.

Neighborhood    4

Portland has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best cities to visit in the northeast. It boasts a vibrant arts scene, top notch museums and a reputation as an outstanding culinary city. During the summer the city is a mecca for outdoor activity. While these options decrease during the cold winter months of the basketball season, the city remains a top New England destination year round.

The Expo is located in between Interstate 295 and a mixed-use area full of businesses and housing. There are a few restaurants and hotels in the immediate vicinity of the arena, but if traveling to Portland, head downtown, which is just a short drive from The Expo. Visitors to Maine's largest city should stroll the streets of the Old Port. There are more than enough bars and restaurants to keep any foodie happy.

Portland has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding culinary center. If you can't find a great meal here, you haven't looked hard enough. As you would expect, some of the best seafood anywhere can be found right here in Portland.

If shopping is your thing, there are numerous small shops located throughout the Old Port. If you don't mind a short drive, the L.L. Bean store is located 17 miles to the north in Freeport. The Maine Mall, the largest shopping center in Maine, is located in nearby South Portland.

Fans    4

You may not think of Maine as a hoops hot-bed, but basketball plays an important role in Maine's sporting fabric. Red Claw fans are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and have shown their support for the farm team of the nearby Celtics in droves. The Red Claws sold out their first two seasons, and continue to average about 2,500 fans in this 3,100 seat facility.

Access    3

The Expo is easy to get to, located just off of Interstate 295. If coming from the south, take exit 5 (Congress St.) or if driving from the north, take exit 6A (Forest Ave.). The Expo is located in the Portland Sports Complex, alongside Hadlock Field, the Portland Ice Arena, and Fitzpatrick Stadium. Parking is available in several lots in and around the facilities, as well as in the Congress Street Building Garage a couple of blocks away.

Fans enter The Expo into a small lobby, where they must pass through a security checkpoint before proceeding to the arena. Also located in the lobby are the restrooms and a beer stand.

After passing through the lobby, fans will enter into the arena behind a set of bleachers. Located to the right is the snack bar and to the left is a small souvenir stand. A single walkway provides access to the seating area, which consists mostly of bleacher seats without backs. The center court sections feature newly installed individual seats. With the walkway located at floor level, fans in the first few rows must put up with a constant stream of fans blocking their view as they walk by. For the best view, select seats about halfway up the seating area.

The Expo has a real old-school feel to it. While this may trigger nostalgia in some fans, the tight quarters may be a nuisance to others.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets for Red Claws games range in price from $30 for center court seats to $6 for end zone seats, with the vast majority of seats priced $20 and under. Parking in the many lots that surround The Expo, or in the Congress Street Medical Building Garage will cost an additional $5. In addition, there is some free on-street parking available in the area around The Expo. With inexpensive concessions, a night at the Red Claws is an affordable entertainment option for sports fans in southern Maine.

Extras    2

An extra point is awarded for the old school feel of The Expo, along with the sense of history here. With the fans crowded tightly around the court, there is a great deal of energy in the building throughout the game.

Another extra point is awarded for the great interaction between the fans and the team. Giveaways, contests and a great family atmosphere permeates all aspects of the game day presentation. An example of the fan-first nature of a Red Claws game is the fact that the courtside seats push the team benches almost all the way down to the baseline.

Final Thoughts

Stepping into the Portland Exposition Building is as close as we will ever get to stepping into a basketball time machine. Close your eyes and you can almost hear the squeak of Chuck Taylors on the hardwood floor. While the venue may be old-school, the game day atmosphere is anything but. Judging by the response of the fans who pack The Expo night after night, that is just fine with them.

Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.

No Center Hung Scoreboard

I don't think that the fact that this arena is missing a center-hung scoreboard is a bad thing at all. It makes for a much cleaner presentation and keeps the focus on the game. Unfortunately, ever-growing monstrosities of light and entertainment are becoming the norm in arenas. I think the lack here is a very good thing...

by paul | May 04, 2013 11:02 AM

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Crowd Reviews

The Expo

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

Located just outside of Portland’s Old Port District, and right next door to Portland’s Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, sits the Portland Exposition Building (also known to locals as “The Expo”). The venue is the home of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.

Opened in 1914 as a premier facility for its time, the Expo has survived almost 100 years of history, hosting an average of 200 events per year from sporting events to trade shows. Hidden within Expo history are concerts by Janis Joplin, The Beach Boys, Dolly Parton, and James Brown. Icons such as Babe Ruth, Rocky Marciano, and President John F. Kennedy have all set foot in this venue.

With nearly 100 years of history in a city which thrives on preserving its roots, one would imagine a sporting cathedral; unfortunately, with the Expo, this is not the case. With short term plans in effect to build a future home for the Red Claws on Thompson’s Point in Portland, the Expo’s use for the Celtics affiliate is only temporary and has much to be desired for the sports spectator.

With 3,100 retractable and removable plastic bench seats lining all 4 sides of the court, the Expo stands as one of the smallest venues in the D-League. But looks aren’t everything, as the Red Claws continue to fill seats for every home game as basketball continues to be alive and well in the state of Maine.

Read Clause?

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 2

Cheapest ticket is only $6 and you can move around, thus a great ROI. Giveaway on this night was a replica of the venue to celebrate 100 years of history. Wish more of that history was on display inside. Lots of fans makes moving around before the game quite difficult. Other than that though, a surprisingly enjoyable place to watch a game.

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Local Food & Drink

Binga’s Stadium Smokehouse & Sports Bar  (map it!)

77 Free St

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 347-6072

http://www.bingasstadium.com/

Fore Play Sports Pub & House of Pizza  (map it!)

436 Fore St

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 780-1111

http://www.foreplayportland.com/

Sebago Brewing Co.  (map it!)

211 Fore St.

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 775-2337

http://www.sebagobrewing.com

Three Dollar Dewey's  (map it!)

241 Commercial St.

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(207) 772-3310

http://www.threedollardeweys.com

Fore Street  (map it!)

288 Fore St.

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 775-2717

http://www.forestreet.biz

DiMillo's  (map it!)

25 Long Wharf

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 772-2216

http://www.dimillos.com/restaurant/

Rivalries Sports Pub and Grill  (map it!)

10 Cotton St

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 774-6044

http://rivalriesmaine.com/

Local Entertainment

Portland Museum of Art  (map it!)

7 Congress St.

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 775-6148

http://www.portlandmuseum.org

L.L. Bean  (map it!)

86 Newbury St.

Freeport, ME 04032

(877) 755-2326

http://www.llbean.com

Lodging

LaQuinta Inn and Suites Portland  (map it!)

340 Park Ave.

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 871-0611

http://www.lq.com/lq/properties/propertyProfile.do?propId=2049

Clarion Hotel Airport  (map it!)

1230 Congress St.

Portland, ME 04102

(207) 774-5611

http://www.clarionhotel.com/hotel-portland-maine-ME061

Holiday Inn Portland by the Bay  (map it!)

88 Spring St.

Portland, ME 04101

(207) 775-2311

http://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/portland/pwmdt/hoteldetail

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