Those who have been in Connecticut for a few decades may remember the address 16 Broad Street, New Britain. On the cusp of Little Poland, the building played host to many bands over the years, including Huey Lewis And The News, Dropkick Murphys, and numerous 80′s thrash bands. In more recent memory it changed monikers several times, mostly serving as a dance club.
Perhaps best known as The Sports Palace, its name from the days of yore, the venue has been reincarnated into the live music game. This reinvention goes under the name Club INT.
Fitted with a new sound and light system, the 1200 person capacity room was commandeered by Rick Bober. A Hartford music veteran, Bober managed the Webster Theatre before being laid off in 2009. His most recent gig was booking Hartford’s Arch Street Tavern.
More than just an ironic name, the old Sports Palace was not only a music venue but, in fact, an indoor soccer field. It took some time to clean up the past. Literally.
“When I first went it had all the astro turf still on the ground,” said Bober. “It was disgusting inside. We had to clean it all out and fix things up.”
Club INT’s first show, an underpromoted July opening, brought in rock bands 10 Years and Fair To Midland. After that, word spread fast.
“So far the response, after that one soft opening, has been phenomenal,” Bober remarked.
Upcoming concerts include Hed PE, Mark Tremonti of Creed and Alter Bridge, as well a pre-Halloween performance of The Misfits. The night before Thanksgiving will have rockers Sum 41 at the venue.
Manic Productions, keepers of the New Haven indie scene, jumped on board as well. Doom metal band SUNN O))) is playing the venue’s second show on
Labor Day. Converge and Torche, another Manic show, is booked for October.
“We’re trying to expand more into the Hartford area, and worked with Rick on some shows at Arch Street,” said Mark Nussbaum of Manic. “It’s a good sized venue and they’re bringing good sound, so it seemed like a good idea to try a few shows.”
“Now agents are back reaching out,” said Bober. “I’m in a bidding war with the Webster.”
Larger and more established, The Webster won at least two of those battles. High profile acts Anthrax and Coheed And Cambria stuck with the Hartford venue rather than jumping to New Britain.
Despite old differences with his former bosses, Bober says the competition leaves music fans the real winners. “There is enough room for everybody,” Bober says. “They’ve found their niche as a more established metal venue. I want to broaden out to every genre, like Sara Bareilles, or any other new top act coming through the area.”
Thus far only rock shows have been booked at INT, though the space is used regularly by dance party promoters and outside booking agents. Bober hopes to also use the venue’s proximity to Central Connecticut State University, a five minute drive, to keep the venue active.
Overall, Bober says, the goal of the venue is to support a sustainable music scene in Hartford County.
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