With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

XL Center Contest Winner

The following post is the winner of the XL Center essay contest written by Steve Jones, who also has a blog the Centrist Student. Steve has won himself a pair of center ice CT Whale tickets and we hope he enjoys the game! We would like to thank all entrants and congratulate Steve on his victory. His winning essay follows.

As a graduating senior in college, I will be returning to Connecticut permanently in May of 2012 searching currently very competitive waters for employment. No matter where my career will take me, Connecticut is my home, Hartford is my city. And I am proud of both right now, though I notice their imperfections. The main one is the image. We've suffered a decade of multiple recessions, leading up to the Great Recession of 2008. Meanwhile, our grand projects along the Hartford River and in Hartford itself have been panned failures largely as a result of the damage done by the economic instability our nation has suffered. And we continue to suffer from it, though we are recovering now, and looking forward.

That is why I implore not just my hard-working Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Rep. Hurlburt, and Senator Tony Guglielmo, but the entire state to look back to Hartford and its chances as a come-back kid in the coming decades. 

Our state has been seen as a rising star for young people to work, as Malloy has commented in recent interviews. And there are many aspects to making a city appealing to the youth. Like Boston and New York City, Hartford is a city of New England. It has its depth of history, notoriety, and icons. One of those icons that has been gone for many years is the Hartford Whalers. We lost the Whalers in 97' and lost out bid on the Patriots to Massachusetts in the early years of the 21st Century. So for a decade and a half, we have been without an icon to represent our state to the nation. But we shan't fret, as we see those in Phoenix, Columbus, and elsewhere costing the NHL more than they make, and moving is the best answer. We do not know for certain if Hartford is one of those choices, though it has been spoken in some circles. But this is certain: Young people enjoy a state symbol through sports. It is why many in Connecticut are proud Patriots fans. They represent the region.

But our youth, and much of the state deserve an icon they can look to in sports that expands a university or college not everyone goes to. We may love UCONN, and it is a strong partner at the XL Center, however our state can only thrive off of college sports for so long. It is why you see Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Bruins, Islanders, and all sorts of national teams represented in this state. We want more. We need more.

So we must look to advocate the NHL through the development of our own nationally renowned center that can carry a NHL team. Though this is not our only goal.

To provide a revamped, modern XL Center would bring about a new life to the city. We expand the attractiveness of many bars/restaurants in the downtown area while providing new opportunities.  Filled with IMAX movies, newer bars, newer restaurants, and a hub for sports; our capital can once again be like our rivals of the region. But we must not try and argue this will be the next Times Square or Madison Square Garden. Hartford faces may obstacles in making itself a rival to these two. And we should not try to emulate them. Hartford is Hartford, so we should fight until everyone is fighting for it, instead of against it.  This notion I often see online and in person about Hartford, much like the center, needs to change. 

Anyone who visits the center for a game knows the seating styles are old, the bathroom structure is old, the rafters are both old and drab. They almost reflect the often lifelessness or stagnation we have faced on multiple fronts. As we break towards a new leader for CT, we must reform our old center and wake all those naysayers up from their pessimistic slumber. They lived through tough times and saw many defeats, but this is not what our future young leaders and workforce should be forced to expect.

We can invest in a future that enlivens and emboldens those in Connecticut to be even more proud than they already are. Pride comes through success and striving for competition. And sports emulate this spirit. The NHL should be what we reach for, but looking far past it to those in our state who will build the economy, become active citizens, and come to be proud of our sadly underrated city. Because they will be the ones to come to Hartford with family and friends, to provide their children with happy memories of a fun and lively Hartford.

Let us turn the page of our slump, our sadness, our sullen disposition. Encourage those you know to learn more about the prospects of a revived XL Center, a revived downtown, and a revived spirit. We may have lost it in recent years, but it is not gone as long as we fight and we write for our city. Our Hartford.


  1. Good to hear from someone Steve's age... Many people, especially business people have been actively working to find ways to keep or bring in young talent, like Steve. We educate so many bright people, but they leave the state for other opportunities. If this is a way to make our state more attractive to young talent, we should be listening and following through.

  2. That, for some shitty CT Whale ticks?

  3. +$3,624 profit last week!

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