The new management of the XL Center took over stewardship of the building’s 37-year-old arena in downtown Hartford this week, two months earlier than first expected.
The Capital Region Development Authority and Connecticut Innovations reached an agreement with former manager AEG Management CT to turn over control to Global Spectrum as of July 1, two months ahead of the original Sept. 1 transition date.
CRDA sought an earlier changeover because Global also was taking over management of The Stadium at Rentschler Field on July 1. CRDA wanted the transitions to take place at the same time.
The agreement calls for CRDA to pay AEG $500,000 for income AEG would have earned in the two months, primarily from the Justin Bieber concert and the USA Gymnastics competition, plus compensation for turning over control of the venue early, Tony Roberto, managing director of strategic investments, at CI told me today.
The agreement also calls for AEG to pay CI $500,000 because AEG had spent less on improvements to XL Center than CI had expected, Roberto said. But Roberto said multiple engineering studies of the building show it was well maintained under AEG’s stewardship, Roberto said.
In addition, AEG paid about $100,000 to make venue modifications to make the XL Center more easily accessible to patrons with disabilities — some of which existed before AEG took the venue’s management, Roberto said.
AEG has also is paying for an engineering study to show it is turning over the facility in the condition required under its management contract.
Previously, CI was responsible for management contracts at the XL Center — the former Civic Center — but now that has been transferred to CRDA.
Global Spectrum was selected by the CRDA in April to take over management of both the XL Center and Rentschler Field in 10-year contracts.
Global takes over XL’s management as the legislature has approved $35 million for upgrades to the aging arena. The funding is being matched by $2.7 million from Global.
XL General Manager Chris Lawrence told me Friday that Global is still determining the specifics of the upgrades.
Improvements to the XL Center are likely to include building systems such as plumbing, electrical, elevators and security, plus upgrades to amenities such as bathrooms, concessions, seating, sound, floors and walls, CRDA has said.
As part of its bid earlier this year to manage the XL Center, Global said a possible improvement could include premium suites lower in the arena, an increasingly popular choice in sports arenas to bring spectators closer to the action.
“Loge” seating — not as expansive as the suites — also is possible. This type of seating typically includes four to six seats with partitions for privacy, also lower in the arena.
Other improvements, Global said, could include improved concessions and menu offerings; a signature bar area; and more digital screens in the arena bowl.