With the future of the American Hockey League in Hartford uncertain, the Capital Region Development Authority says it is keenly aware it must act swiftly to select a management company for Hartford’s XL Center.
The XL Center’s contract with the Connecticut Whale, the AHL franchise of the New York Rangers, expires this year and negotiations on a future contract can’t begin until the new manager is in place.
“We know that we are at a critical time to get the deal done,” Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, told me today. “We hope to make a decision within a week.”
Initially, the CRDA staff had aimed to bring a recommendation to its board this week. But a meeting with board members Wednesday night left too many questions unanswered, and negotiations continue with the bidders.
The key issues in the negotiations remain: the future of the AHL in Hartford, capital improvements to the XL Center, and boosting event attendance.
Read my story about the challenges of an aging XL Center here.
The bidders are AEG Management CT LLC, Capital Region Sports and Entertainment Group, and Global Spectrum.
Freimuth said the bidders are in contact not only with The Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Rangers and The Whale, but other potential AHL teams that might want to sign a contract with the venue.
Read more about MSG’s thoughts on Hartford in this story by my colleague Paul Doyle.