In the latest twist in the debate over the future of Hartford’s XL Center, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy is proposing $100 million in funding for upgrades.
Under a proposal that was unveiled Monday, Malloy was including $100 million in the state’s capital improvement budget to fund upgrades to the XL Center. Last year, state officials signed off on a plan to invest $40 million in arena upgrades, but with a stipulation that a request for proposals (RFP) be issued to help find a potential buyer for the city-owned venue.
The Capital Region Development Authority is expected to begin the process of seeking a buyer this spring. In the past, estimates have suggested that the XL Center could use $250 million in renovations, but state lawmakers have not embraced that idea to this point. More from The Hartford Courant:
“I think the hope was on the legislative side that somebody would come along, buy it and put $250 million into it and run it for the good of the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said at Monday’s briefing. “No one has said that yet.”
The $40 million approved last year was aimed at making the arena more attractive to a potential buyer, partly by purchasing the atrium and storefronts along Trumbull Street. Those spaces also could be sources of revenue for a new owner.
Michael W. Freimuth, the authority’s executive director, said Monday the $100 million or some part of it could be used as a “public contribution” to attract a private buyer. Or if there isn’t interest in a purchase, the $100 million could be used for renovations, Freimuth said.
One indication that it may be tough to find a buyer came last year. The authority sought proposals for a public-private partnership and drew just one bid.
Malloy’s proposal for $100 million out of the state’s capital improvement budget is subject to the approval of the state legislature. 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.