HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Should the state invest $250 million in the aging XL Center in Hartford? The governor, the agency that runs the facility and the mayor say ‘yes.’ But getting the legislature to go along with borrowing that much money on what the governor admits is a risky bet while facing a $1.7 billion deficit seems unlikely.
It has been ten years since New Haven Mayor John DeStefano decided against investing $30 million to rehab the New Haven Coliseum and had the early 1970’s vintage arena imploded in the early morning hours of January 20th 2007. In October of 2014, eight years later, the city announced with much fanfare, a plan to develop the site. But that project is still stalled because moving underground utilities is cost-prohibitive and the footprint of the project must be changed. The city and the developer are scheduled to meet again next month.
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In Hartford, the state has spent $35 million over the past few years to shore-up another 1970’s vintage arena; the XL Center and now, the governor wants to spend $250 million more to modernize it. He toured the facility last week to point out that some of the ventilation system has collapsed, that the ice making machinery and the air conditioning is all defective and that the lack of modern luxury boxes lower to the bowl is limiting an important revenue stream. He also says there’s no chance of luring an NHL team here the way it is.
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“That’s separate and a part of what we need to do to maintain UConn Hockey, maintain UConn Women, maintain UConn Men’s games here to have a facility that will fill itself up with other attractions,” said Malloy.
Because of all those reasons he says a large venue facility like XL Center is a must in Hartford and that a new one, somewhere else, would cost close to a billion dollars.
“I think it’s folly because; first of all, we don’t have the money. Second, because it hasn’t worked, it’s something we’ve had to subsidize for 40 years,” says Sen. Joe Markley (R-Southington) who is an Assistant Republican Leader in the State Senate.
Markley and other opponents say that if some private developer wants to take it over, that’s fine but with the state facing a $1.7 billion deficit; this just doesn’t make sense. As far as luring an NHL team here, even the governor admits; it’s a long shot.