State Bond Commission Backs Funding For XL Center Upgrades

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment, XL Center Date:
A rendering showing the new "fan club" bar area planned for Hartford's XL Center. Credit: JCJ Architecture

A rendering showing the new “fan club” bar area planned for Hartford’s XL Center from across the arena bowl. Credit: JCJ Architecture

The State Bond Commission Friday morning backed $31.2 million for upgrades at Hartford’s aging XL Center, with construction expected to begin in late spring.

The funding is part of a $35 million package approved by the state legislature in last year’s session of the General Assembly. In December, the bond commission backed spending $1.8 million of the package on developing plans for the improvements.

My colleague Chris Keating, who covered Friday’s bond commission meeting, reports that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said it makes sense to make short-term improvements now because the state does not have any immediate plans for constructing a new arena.

“What I’m trying to do is stretch a very old facility,” Malloy told reporters at the state Capitol complex. “It is one of the older facilities in the nation of its type. I’m trying to get eight to 10 years out of it, quite frankly. Right now, the air conditioning system is in failure. Other systems in the building are in failure.”

Malloy added: “There is now way we could build a replacement facility overnight or quite frankly, in the next two years, for instance. So, we either close it and have no functions being run in Hartford or we put some money into it and stretch its life.”

The $35 million also includes funding to study long-term options for the XL Center, opened in 1975 as the Hartford Civic Center. The study is expected to get underway in earnest later this year.

In addition to new mechanical systems, improvements now planned will include a new “fan club” bar area that overlooks the bowl, loge seating and an upgraded sound system. The concourse will be refurbished to include themed “nodes” at the corners, renovated restrooms and expanded concession offerings.

Construction is expected to begin in May and be mostly completed by October, in time for the beginning of the hockey and basketball seasons.

See more renderings here of planned upgrades at the XL Center.

“XL Center needs this infusion of funds to stay current with industry practices as we map out a longer term plan for the buildings future,” Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, told me.

The CRDA oversees the operations of both the XL Center and The Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Last year, the CRDA hired Global Spectrum to manage both.

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
*Renovated restrooms
*New wall and floor finishes
*New lighting
*Concession area improvements
*New doors and signs at entrances
*Improved disabled accessibility
Event Level:
*Renovated Wolf Pack, UConn basketball and visiting hockey and basketball team locker rooms
*New locker room for UConn hockey
*Renovated support kitchen
*New restrooms
*Improved disabled accessibility
Mechanical Systems:
*Upgraded control system
*Repaired or replaced heating, cooling and air circulation systems
*Repaired or replaced piping systems

Source: Capital Region Development Authority

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