State Bond Commission Funds XL Center Improvement Designs

by Categorized: Hartford Redevelopment, Uncategorized Date:

The design of more than $30 million in improvements to the aging XL Center in downtown Hartford, including the construction of a new bar area inside the arena bowl, is getting underway, now that the State Bond Commission has approved funds for planning.

Rendering of planned upgrades to XL Center concourse and concession area. Credit: JCJ Architecture

Rendering of planned upgrades to XL Center concourse and concession area. Credit: JCJ Architecture

The commission this morning approved $1.8 million for the designs, which will include upgrades to the bowl, concourse, event level and the mechanical systems.

The Capital Region Development Authority, which oversees the management of the facility, has said it was crucial to begin designs now so the bulk of construction could be done during the slower summer months. The timetable calls for construction to be completed by October and the start of the 2014 season for the Wolf Pack and the University of Connecticut hockey teams.

Earlier this week, Republican legislative leaders wanted the item pulled from the bond commission’s agenda today after questions surfaced about a $10,000 donation to the Democratic Party from the chairman of Global Spectrum’s parent company. Global Spectrum inked a 10-year management contract for the XL Center earlier this year.

State law prohibits political donations from state contractors. Democrats have decided to return the donation.

Michael W. Freimuth, the CRDA’s executive director, told me today that work on aging heating, cooling and air circulations systems will focus on the replacement and upgrades of system components, rather than replacing the entire systems.

See photos of the XL Center and more renderings.

The strategy, Freimuth said, will extend the building’s life another eight to 10 years.

“It allows us to put funding into the sexier items,” Freimuth said. “Not only that, it allows us to address maintenance and operational costs, the performance of the building…….without going through a major capital upgrade that would take us through 30 years, longer than the likely life the building.”

CRDA, for instance, hopes more efficient systems will cut the XL Center’s $65,000 a month electric bill.

The XL Center’s long-term future — beyond Global Spectrum’s 10-year contract, inked earlier this year — is still in question.

A portion of the $35 million approved by the state legislature for XL Center improvements calls for a study for the arena’s long-term prospects: either a major overhaul of the existing arena or a replacement elsewhere.

 

Planned XL Center Improvements

Arena Bowl:

–New fan club area overlooking the bowl

–New loge boxes

–New sound system

–Upgraded video board and scoreboard

–New LED ribbon boards

–New digital advertising signs

Concourse:

–Renovated restrooms

–New wall and floor finishes

–New lighting

–Concession area improvements

–New doors and signs at entrances

–Improved handicap accessibility

Event Level:

–Renovated Wolfpack, UConn basketball and visiting hockey and basketball team locker rooms

–New locker room for UConn hockey

–Renovated support kitchen

–New restrooms

–Improved handicap accessibility

Mechanical Systems:

–Upgraded control system

–Repaired or replaced heating, cooling and air circulation systems

–Repaired or replaced piping systems

 

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