There's been a lot of excitement about downtown development both at Sad City and across all of Hartford this week. Tuesday saw another presentation of iQuilt, the comprehensive plan to reinvigorate downtown by making it more pedestrian friendly increasing the connectivity of the downtown area. A very cool idea and the exact type of big thinking that we feel Hartford needs. Some people still find time to put the plan down, but there are always some people that are going to react negatively to anything that isn't exactly on their personal agenda, so really, what can you do?
Then last night the first round of voting in "Hot In Hartford 2012" commenced with the XL Center soundly defeating the Hartford-New Britain Busway, a project for which it is difficult to find supporters. A couple months ago Howard Baldwin put forth a plan funded by the Aetna that stated that the XL Center could be refurbished for $105 million and that a refurbishment (amongst other factors) could entice NHL team could possibly return to Hartford for the 2017-2018 season.
There has definitely been some confusion about what the XL Center refurbishment plan called for. Some seem to think Mr. Baldwin is asking the state to pour money into his arena so he can acquire a team and bring it here. Not accurate. The XL Center is owned by the City of Hartford who currently leases the arena to Northland. Northland assumes total responsibility for the building, absorbing losses and retaining profits.
For whatever you might think of the XL Center, everyone we have talked to (including those that would really know) have nothing but good things to say about the current management group of the XL Center. The lease to the XL Center expires at the end of either 2012 or 2013 and if Northland doesn't renew and a new lessee isn't found, the XL Center and the City of Hartford could have quite an interesting problem.
Second, the proposed refurbishing of the XL Center wasn't a "refurbish to bring the NHL back." It was more going with the widely held consensus that the XL Center either needs to be refurbished or rebuilt and proposing a plan to do it with the possibility of the NHL one day returning to Hartford. Even without the NHL, the XL Center is still home to the CT Whale, UConn Huskies, and various other events.
In a tiny state that is always ranked in the top three wealthiest states in the nation, has residents and towns amongst the richest in the world, and has two of the world's largest casinos, is it that crazy to think that in the capitol city of a state with all that we night actually get ourselves a modern arena for entertainment?
When asked about the plan, Governor Malloy said that the state was not interested in Baldwin's plan. Just yesterday Governor Malloy was on Sad City friend John Dankosky's Where We Live radio show and was asked about the possibility of the return of the NHL to Hartford. After going on a bizarre diatribe naming almost every UConn sports team and even citing University of New Haven football team (we've won Hartford tons of Super Bowls on Madden over the years, no mention there Governor?) Malloy stated that he was firmly behind the XL Center but also that he had talked to NHL Commissioner Bettman and that he did not believe that the NHL was coming here in the near future, although maybe one day "lightning could strike."
It is important to note that Commissioner Bettman always tries to downplay the failing NHL franchises. The Atlanta Thrashers relocating to Winnipeg came together rapidly over this offseason. Just now, halfway through the current season, is the NHL finally admitting (something we all knew) that the Phoenix franchise is failing and will likely be relocated this offseason. There are a handful of other franchises failing in other markets that will almost certainly need to relocate over the next few years.
Here's where Sad City has a chance for you to express why you think an arena is important to Hartford and to win two great lower level center ice seats to see the CT Whale play at the XL Center. Write us and tell us (and your elected officials) why you think it is important for Connecticut's capitol city to have a modern arena to host events in downtown. It can be as long or as short as you'd like and the winner will be featured as its own post on Sad City. The winner will also receive two lower level center ice seats to see the Whale play the Springfield Falcons at the XL Center Friday February 17 at 7 PM.
Let's make the deadline for this contest Sunday January 29. Email your entries to HakaanLoob@gmail.com. If there are lots of strong entries, we might post more besides the winning entrant. Please remember to let us know how you want us to credit the entry if posted.
RULES & DISCLAIMERS:All entries must be emailed to HakaanLoob@Gmail.com by 11:59PM EST January 29, 2012. Send entries either in email text or attached in Microsoft Word format. The winner will be chosen solely by the discretion of Sad City Hartford LLC. Sad City Hartford LLC will post the winning entry on the blog Sad City Hartford and reserves the right to post any or all entries to contest on the blog at anytime.
Once contacted the winner will provide a valid mailing address to send two (2) tickets to the CT Whale game at Hartford's XL Center on February 17, 2012. Winners are responsible for all transportation and expenses incurred traveling to, from, and at the game. Winners assume all responsibility for their behavior and actions while at the game and are not agents, guests, or invitees of Sad City Hartford LLC or any of its board or members.
By submitting an entry to this contest, the entrant(s) certifies that they have read, understand, and agree to the above terms entitled "RULES & DISCLAIMERS"