With a potential sale process now in the works, questions are being raised about the future status of Hartford’s XL Center.
Officials have been debating long-term plans for the XL Center, a venue that has been pitched for a major investment to cover upgrades. Though Connecticut legislators have approved $40 million in state bonding to fund arena upgrades, they have also passed a stipulation that a request for proposals (RFP) be issued to help find a potential buyer for the city-owned venue.
The $40 million in funds is far below the $250 million in upgrades that governor Dannel P. Malloy had previously pitched for XL Center. Under the terms of the legislation, the RFP must be issued by June 30, 2019, but it is possible that officials will proceed with the process in a faster time frame. The level of interest in the venue remains to be seen. More from the AP:
The legislation requires the request be issued no later than June 30, 2019. But it will likely be released this spring, said Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Regional Development Authority. The authority is a quasi-public agency created by the General Assembly to manage various Hartford development projects, including the XL Center, which is owned by the city.
At this point, the number of potential buyers for the arena is questionable.
“I think we’re fooling ourselves if we think it’s going to be a dramatic bidding process,” said Freimuth, noting the roughly 40-year-old structure is “dated and it’s tired” and still requires a major investment beyond the $40 million.
If there’s no buyer, state and city officials will have to decide what to do next with the complex, including its’ possible closure.
Originally opening as the Hartford Civic Center in 1975, the venue is the former home of the NHL’s Hartford Whalers and current host of the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL). In addition to the Wolf Pack, the XL Center also hosts events for UConn athletics, including hockey and occasional basketball games.