XL Center’s Future Debated

The future of the 16,500-capacity XL Center in Hartford, Conn., is under debate despite approval of $40 million in state bonding to repair the aging facility.


 The one catch in the state funding approval is a stipulation that the Capital Regional Development Authority, which oversees the city-owned venue, must issue a Request for Proposals by June 30, 2019.

CRDA Executive Director Michael Freimuth has said the RFP could be issued as early as this spring but isn’t optimistic about potential buyers for the facility. If no buyers surface, the facility could be closed.

During a Nov. 30 meeting of the board, Freimuth was quoted by the Hartford Courant as saying “I’ve expressed an anxiety of putting the uncertainty out there for that period of time. It’s unfair to book events, selling tickets, just planning our future. We should just cut to the chase and get the deal done.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the XL Center needs to be either overhauled or closed and proposed borrowing $250 million over several years to renovate the 42-year-old arena and keep it competitive. The venue is said to host 130 to 150 events a year including University of Connecticut basketball and hockey teams and minor league hockey.

XL Center hosted six shows of Cirque du Soleil “Toruk – The First Flight,” “Hits Deep Tour” featuring Tobymac, Jeff Dunham, Roger Waters, Guns N’ Roses and Dead & Company among the events.  

Other venues in the market include the 10,000-capacity Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville and 3,959-capacity Foxwoods Casino Resort Grand Theater in Mashantucket.