Long-waited improvements to downtown Hartford’s XL Center are expected to get underway in late summer now that the legislature has approved $35 million for upgrades to the aging arena, officials said this afternoon.
The funding approved by the legislature would be matched by $2.7 million from new manager Global Spectrum. The legislature’s funding package now goes to the State Bond Commission for approval.
Upgrades to the XL Center include building systems such as plumbing, electrical, elevators and security plus amenities such as bathrooms, concessions, seating, sound, floors and walls, according to the Capital Region Development Authority.
As part of its bid earlier this year to manage the XL Center, Global said possible improvement could include premium suites lower in the arena, an increasingly popular choice in sports arenas 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 upgraded concessions and menu offerings; a signature bar area; and more digital screens in the arena bowl.
Chris Lawrence, who will take over as the XL’s general manager, told me today that the plans are still being worked out. But the upgrades would be aimed at improving visitor experience and boosting venue revenues, he said.
In addition, the legislature approved $3 million for improvements to The Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The largest portion — $2 million — will go towards a new score board, which is expected to be in place before the start of the fall football season.
The balance of funds will be used for upgrading concessions, lighting and locker rooms.
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 assumes control of the venues this summer.