Hartford arena director says building needs $100m renovation because it’s “tired”

The head of the state authority in charge of Hartford’s XL Center says it needs costly upgrades before it can be sold to a private operator, because of “tired systems”:

“The building is truly out of its prime,” Michael W. Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, said in a legislative hearing. “It has had a very difficult time competing, primarily with our own casinos, let alone when Springfield comes along. It requires quite a bit of upgrade, not simply of its tired systems which we can’t even find parts for anymore but just the way it presents itself.”

Among other things, apparently none of the elevators or escalators at the building are functioning. The Connecticut legislature is currently considering a $100 million proposal by Gov. Dannel Malloy to rehab the arena, though Freimuth didn’t say whether that would be enough to make it competitive.

The other obvious question that Freimuth didn’t answer is whether anybody would pay $100 million to buy the arena — if not, it’d be kind of a dumb investment by the state. But apparently he considers the XL Center too big to fail, or too downtown to fail, or something:

Knocking down the building could cost as much as $40 million, Freimuth said, all to create a hole in the middle of downtown.

“Frankly, having that go dark at the center of town, well, symbolically, it sends a lot of bad vibes, obviously,” Freimuth said. “It impacts everything from parking revenue to restaurant revenue to taxes. … The event load plays into the hotels.”…

The arena also is considered a key amenity in the city’s revitalization and is attractive to people moving into the new downtown apartments, Freimuth said.

This is the same claim that arena advocates made a year and change ago, when they argued that nobody was going to move to downtown Hartford without a renovated arena, despite tons of people in fact moving to downtown Hartford in recent years. Maybe millennials just like climbing stairs? Damn kids today are killing escalators, too.

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5 comments on “Hartford arena director says building needs $100m renovation because it’s “tired”

  1. Move the Wolf Pack to Bridgeport, move the Sound Tigers to Uniondale, and then shut down/blow up the XL Center.

    1. “Maybe millennials just like climbing stairs?”

      Also you kid but meh I always liked being that one putz who takes the stares when everyone else at Citi Field uses the escalator. ; )

  2. Come on. Hartford more than anyone else has shown they can build and run a sports facility.

  3. “apparently none of the elevators or escalators at the building are functioning”
    Can somebody confirm this because that seems awfully hard to believe.
    They’re going to host March Madness games there next year and seems like those would have been tough to secure with everyday features being unusable. They’ve also got a full slate of big-name concerts and shows coming up over the next several months that would seemingly be going elsewhere if things were in that bad a shape. Also noteworthy is they put $35 million worth of renovations into the place in 2014-15–but within 3 years NONE of the elevators or escalators would work?

    1. This sounds suspect to me too. When my town was trying to drive public support for spending an outrageous amount on arena renovations they trotted out all kinds of ‘the sky is falling – literally’ media stories that, when looked at objectively, were actually general maintenance issues.

      The “failed roof” turned out to be two seams of a membrane that had been improperly affixed years earlier (and no-one had bothered to address), while the “toxic mould throughout” turned out to be surface mould on a ceramic tiled floor in the locker rooms which only occurred because the cleaning staff weren’t using disinfectant, just hosing the floors down with municipal water and leaving them to air dry.

      Naturally none of this mattered and a horrifically expensive renovation was approved… and the staff which had contributed greatly to the original problems simply repeated their efforts in the new building.


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