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The XL Center, formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center, is a multi-purpose arena and convention center located in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. It is owned by the City of Hartford and operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) under contract with the Connecticut Development Authority (CDA). In December 2007, the Center was renamed when the arena's naming rights were sold to XL Capital insurance company in a 6-year agreement. The arena is ranked the 28th largest among college basketball arenas. Opened in 1974 as the Hartford Civic Center and originally located adjacent to a shopping mall (Civic Center Mall, which was demolished in 2004), it consists of two facilities: the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Exhibition Center.

On March 21, 2007, the CDA selected the Northland/Anschutz Entertainment Group proposal. It was revealed that Northland will assume total responsibility for the building paying for any and all losses, and will keep any profits.

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum[]

File:Hartfordmj.jpg

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum as set up for Monster Jam.

The Coliseum is the full-time home of the Connecticut Whale AHL hockey team and part-time home of the University of Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams. It was the home of the New England/Hartford Whalers of the WHA and NHL from 1975–1978 and 1980–1997, and the Hartford Hellions of the MISL from 1980–1981, and the New England Blizzard of the ABL from 1996–1998, and hosted occasional Boston Celtics home games from 1975-1995. It was the home of the Connecticut Coyotes and later the New England Sea Wolves of the Arena Football League. The arena seats 15,635 for ice hockey and 16,294 for basketball, 16,606 for center-stage concerts, 16,282 for end-stage concerts, and 8,239 for 3/4-end stage concerts, and contains 46 luxury suites and a 310-seat Coliseum Club, plus 25,000 square feet of arena floor space, enabling it to be used for trade shows and conventions in addition to concerts, circuses, ice shows, sporting events and other events.

History and collapse[]

File:HartfordCivicCenterSoldOut.jpg

The arena remains a site for popular concerts. 2007.

As originally built in 1973, it seated 10,507 for hockey, and served as the home of the then-New England Whalers for three years. In the early morning of January 18, 1978, just hours after the University of Connecticut Men's Basketball team defeated the University of Massachusetts, the weight of snow from the day's heavy snowstorm caused the Civic Center roof to collapse.[7] There were no injuries. The building was heavily renovated and re-opened January 17, 1980.

Current arena[]

In September 2010, the arena was upgraded with a new center-hung scoreboard with four Sony Jumbotrons and a state-of-the-art sound system.

The XL Center has held many notable events including:

  • The 1994 NHL Entry Draft, was held in the Civic Center.
  • The 1982 Big East Conference and 1988–1990 America East Conference men's basketball tournaments were also here, as well as occasional games of the UConn Huskies men's basketball team.[8]
  • The Big East Conference women's basketball tournament is contracted to the coliseum through 2009, and it has hosted multiple NCAA women's basketball sub-regionals and regionals.
  • The building was the host of the 1986 NHL All-Star Game[9] as well as hosting Games 1, 2, and 5 of the 2000 Calder Cup Finals, won by the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League.
  • WrestleMania XI was held here, as were Survivor Series 1990, No Way Out 2000 and Vengeance 2004.
  • Senator Barack Obama's rally that drew 15,000 people to the arena on February 4, 2008, the day before the Connecticut Democratic Presidential Primary.[10]
  • The PBR (Professional Bull Riders) made their first-ever visit to the XL Center for a Built Ford Tough Series event the weekend of October 7–9, 2011.[11]

Exhibition center[]

The Exhibition Center consists of a 68,855 square foot exhibit hall, a 16,080 square foot assembly hall that can divide into two meeting rooms, plus seven meeting rooms totaling 7,390 square feet and two lobbies totaling 6,100 square feet. It is used for trade shows, conventions, banquets, meetings and other events.

The surrounding shopping mall was torn down in 2004 and was replaced by street-level retail shops and a 36-story residential tower named Hartford 21, which opened in 2006 and is the tallest residential tower between New York City and Boston.

Possible new arena[]

With the XL Center approaching its 40th birthday, leaders in Hartford have been considering whether it should be replaced with a new facility. In 2006, developer Lawrence Gottesdiener began lobbying to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and move them to a new Hartford arena, but the Lemieux Group was reluctant to sell. The Penguins bid was officially off the table in March 2007, when the team announced that they were beginning construction on a new arena and that they signed a 30-year deal with the city of Pittsburgh to keep the team there well into the future. Penguins owner Mario Lemieux claimed at the arena's ground-breaking ceremony that relocating the franchise was never a possibility, but instead it was a negotiation tactic to help the team get funding for the arena from both state and local officials.[12]

After the Pittsburgh bid fell through, Gottesdiener made another bid for the Nashville Predators franchise with the hope of bringing them to Hartford. That bid was lost in August 2007, as the Predators ownership ultimately decided to sell to a local holding company that would keep the team in Nashville.

Since that time, Mayor Eddie Pérez and former House Speaker James Amann continued to investigate the feasibility of a new downtown arena,[13] with Mayor Perez making statements to tear down the XL Center and replace it with the new arena as recently as March 2008. The current lease for the XL Center runs until 2013. After that, the facility must be turned over to the city of Hartford. By that point, the city wants to decide whether the building can be refurbished or if it has enough financial support to build a new arena. Mayor Eddie Perez met with a newly formed task force of city business leaders to determine the benefits of building a new arena. "In order to consider the new arena, we have to find out where the corporate support is for a new arena and that's the charge I gave the task force," Perez said. "My hope is that by late September of this year, they can give me an idea where the corporate support would be and how we can go about organizing that support. "The mayor said that he feels the city needs a new arena to attract more events and possibly a professional sports franchise. "For a region to survive, you need a dynamic urban center and entertainment is part of a dynamic urban center," said Oz Griebel of the Metro Hartford Alliance. "If you're going to offer entertainment venues, whether they be basketball games, hockey games, rodeos, concerts, you have to have a venue that people are going to want to come to." Perez said he thinks a new arena could bring about 1,500 new jobs to the city.

Early in 2010, Howard Baldwin, the former owner of the Whalers, moved back to Connecticut and formed Whalers Sports and Entertainment in an attempt to grow interest in hockey and the NHL in Connecticut. These efforts may lead to the building a state-of-the-art arena as a replacement for the aging XL Center. [1] In November 2011, Howard Baldwin announced a $105 Million proposal to renovate the XL Center as a part of an effort to improve attendance at current minor hockey and college basketball games and improve Hartford's chances at attracting a new NHL hockey team.[14]

References[]

  1. "Ground is Broken For the Civic Center". Hartford Courant. April 2, 1971. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/950165322.html?dids=950165322:950165322&FMT=CITE&FMTS=CITE:AI&type=historic&date=Apr+02%2C+1971&author=&pub=Hartford+Courant&desc=Ground+is+Broken+For+the+Civic+Center&pqatl=google. 
  2. The Connecticut Development Authority- Opportunities for The Hartford Civic Center, p36
  3. Mike Swift. "A Quiet Hartford Civic Center Turns 20 Today". Hartford Courant. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/22861404.html?dids=22861404:22861404&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Jan+09%2C+1995&author=MIKE+SWIFT%3B+Courant+Staff+Writer&pub=Hartford+Courant&desc=A+QUIET+HARTFORD+CIVIC+CENTER+TURNS+20+TODAY&pqatl=google. 
  4. Template:Cite book
  5. http://matdl.org/failurecases/Building%20Cases/Hartford.htm
  6. 6.0 6.1 http://www.emporis.com/application/?lng=3&nav=building&id=261572
  7. Hartford Civic Center Arena Roof Collapse case study, by Rachel Martin. Accessed Nov. 20, 2009.
  8. XL Center (Hartford, CT)
  9. http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=28952
  10. http://www.wfsb.com/politics/15217117/detail.html
  11. http://www.pbrnow.com/release/?id=7573
  12. Associated Press (2006-04-07). "Developer wants to buy Penguins for possible move to Hartford.". The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/04/07/developer_wants_to_buy_penguins_for_possible_move_to_hartford_1144431071/. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  13. "CITY OF HARTFORD SEEKS CONSULTANT TO ADVISE ON FEASIBILITY OF DEVELOPING NEW DOWNTOWN ARENA" (Press release). City of Hartford, Connecticut. 2006-08-30. http://www.hartford.gov/News/PR082906numbertwo.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-14. 
  14. Green, Rick. "NHL Back In Hartford In Five Years: Crazy Or Brilliant?", The Hartford Courant. November 15, 2011. Accessed November 15, 2011.

External links[]

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