Connecticut puts Hartford arena up for sale, hints at paying buyer to take it off its hands

If you’ve always dreamed of owning the former home of the Hartford Whalers, yesterday was your lucky day, as the state Capital Region Development Authority officially put it up for sale — and the state of Connecticut might help you buy it from itself, what?

[CRDA executive director Michael] Freimuth said the state is not pledging to devote funds for improvements as part of the RFP, but “the state could be a player. I would think honestly whatever proposals come in, it would require some state participation.”

So what this sounds like is that the CRDA is hoping that some state renovation funds could sweeten the pot to get higher bids for the arena, though given that the arena is already owned by a state authority, it would be more straightforward just to let people bid whatever they want without involving subsidies, but of course straightforward isn’t always what state officials (or arena owners) want, because it’s too obvious where the money is going then.

Anyway, Freimuth says that the CRDA has already received multiple bids, which is good, because running an arena in a mid-sized city with lots of competition elsewhere in the state and no major-league sports tenants isn’t exactly the kind of thing that sets investors’ hearts a-flutter. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that whoever buys the building doesn’t demand more in “state participation” than they pay the state in the first place, because that’s the kind of offer that Connecticut can’t afford not to refuse.

19 comments on “Connecticut puts Hartford arena up for sale, hints at paying buyer to take it off its hands

  1. I wonder if Mohegan Sun would be interested in getting the XL Center if they could get it for a reasonable price.

    Could maybe hold more concerts that they couldn’t at the smaller Mohegan Sun arena?

    Also wow congratulations Connecticut…you don’t know how to haggle.

  2. Don’t we just know that the opening position for the city or state will ultimately work out to be “we’ll refund whatever we charge you for the building and agree to pay for all required upgrades to make and keep the facility state of the art indefinitely”?

    What is the upside to selling the facility? Getting out from under the operating costs and perceived need to upgrade (some of which might be a legitimate need)?

    What anchor tenant(s) are they hoping to attract?

  3. In other arena news, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (about 9 minutes in) parroted the NHL party line that the Glendale arena is not an appropriate place for the Coyotes to thrive and Andrew Barroway still needs to find a solution to his arena situation.

    • I haven’t followed the Coyotes situation too close as I have been more infuriated with the Calgary Flames arena situation, but this is the impression I get.

      The City of Glendale doesn’t want the Coyotes anymore. The NHL says that the Coyotes cannot continue to play in Glendale, and must therefore get an arena built somewhere closer to or in Phoenix. But nobody in the Phoenix area seems to care if the hockey team exists or not. Thus, the threat of the team moving is completely meaningless, and this would in fact be welcomed.

      So I have two questions.

      1. Why does Andrew Barroway want a team to continue to exist in the Phoenix area. Shouldn’t he try to relocate?

      2. What does the NHL want to happen? Do they want a new arena to be built completely with taxpayer money, and for the team to receive so many subsidies that it doesn’t even matter if anyone shows up to the games or not?

      • 1. There aren’t a ton of great options. Seattle looks to be getting an expansion team, and the owners of the Quebec arena want to own any team that plays in it. So for now he may as well stand pat and hope that by playing the various Phoenix area cities off against each other, he can get someone to build him an arena.

        2. Exactly. It worked in Glendale, for a while.

        • Skeptical anyone else in Maricopa County will pony up for a hockey arena. Even ASU decided to build their own on-campus arena rather than go in with the Coyotes.

        • It almost seems that success for a franchise has little to do with making fans happy, or even with having a full arena. The primary objective of any franchise appears to be to extract as much money as possible from taxpayers. That is what makes you a real “winner” as an owner (sarcasm).

          I find it funny how Bettman gets a lot of credit for growing the NHL and turning it into a multi-billion dollar organization. I’m curious to know how much of that is due to money swindled from taxpayers, as opposed to legitimate revenue from merchandise, season ticket sales, etc.

          I actually think a lot of problems would be solved if the NHL actually contracted the league by 10 or more teams. With so few spots available to play on NHL teams, the owners could get away with lockouts where they could significantly reduce player salaries. This is the fundamental problem in why most franchises are not “economically viable” (as opposed to the owners demanding tax money to make markets “economically viable”). If a franchise cannot survive without public support outside of ticket sales and merchandise, they shouldn’t exist.

          • And TV money, whatever it may be. Not that contraction is a bad idea, but if the league really cared it would facilitate teams moving to cities that would support them such as Ontario. Contracting to cut salaries would be eventually self-defeating.

          • “With so few spots available to play on NHL teams, the owners could get away with lockouts where they could significantly reduce player salaries.”

            They’ve “gotten away with” lockouts twice since 2004 without contracting at all–let alone cutting 33% of the teams like you are advocating. The fact that owners are greedy and always want to make more money doesn’t mean teams aren’t currently profitable.

        • Are the Coyotes on the hook for some huge chunk of change if they relocate? Because for all their complaining they don’t seem to be really serious about moving or they would have done so by now. Vegas was a possibility but got an expansion team and the same looks to be happening with Seattle. That was TWO destinations they could have moved to instead they’re still messing around hoping for a new arena in Phoenix they almost certainly aren’t going to get. I can’t understand what the ownership’s end game is.

      • Point of Clarification: The City of Glendale does want the Coyotes, just not as the ‘arena manager’ with that big, fat $15 million ‘arena management fee’ they were getting a year to do so.

    • How about a roof collapse?

  4. Sports arenas generate yuuuge economic impact, but you literally can’t give one away -you gotta pay someone to take it off your hands. There’s something contradictory here.

    As for Glendale, the city leaders finally wised up and realized that the Coyotes were counting on never-ending subsidies. The team would never contribute enough to make the arena pay for itself, so I think it’s correct that the city cares a lot less now about whether the hockey team stays or goes. Glendale is stuck with the cost of past decisions and few options to pay for those decisions.

  5. Phoenix sued for not releasing records tied to Suns arena renovations

  6. That burg is a bad joke and anyone stupid enough to get involved
    with this pig-in-a-poke is the punchline…