XL Center

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Not to be confused with Xcel Energy Center or ExCeL London.
XL Center
XL Group 2011 logo.svg
XL Center Logo
Former names Hartford Civic Center (1975–2007)
Location 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Coordinates 41°46′06″N 72°40′37″W / 41.76833°N 72.67694°W / 41.76833; -72.67694Coordinates: 41°46′06″N 72°40′37″W / 41.76833°N 72.67694°W / 41.76833; -72.67694
Broke ground April 2, 1971[1]
Opened January 9, 1975
Closed 1978–1980 (roof collapse, renovations)
Owner City of Hartford[2]
Operator Global Spectrum
Construction cost $30 million[3]
($131 million in 2014 dollars[4])
Architect Kling & Associates
Danos and Associates[5]
Project manager Gilbane Building Company[6]
Structural engineer Fraoli, Blum, and Yesselman, Engineers[7]
General contractor William L. Crow Construction Company[6]
Capacity Concerts: 16,606
Basketball: 16,294
Hockey: 15,635
Tenants
Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) (1997–present)
UConn Huskies (NCAA) (1980–present, part-time)
New England / Hartford Whalers (WHA / NHL) (1975–1978, 1980–1997)
WrestleMania XI (WWE) (1995)
Connecticut Coyotes (AFL) (1995–1996)
New England Blizzard (ABL) (1996–1998)
New England Sea Wolves (AFL) (1999–2000)
Boston Celtics (NBA) (1975–1995, part-time)
Hartford Hellions (MISL) (1980–1981)

The XL Center, formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center, is a multi-purpose arena and convention center located in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, United States. It is owned by the City of Hartford and operated by Global Spectrum. In December 2007, the Center was renamed when the arena's naming rights were sold to XL Capital insurance company in a 6-year agreement. The arena is ranked the 28th largest among college basketball arenas. Opened in 1974 as the Hartford Civic Center and originally located adjacent to a shopping mall (Civic Center Mall, which was demolished in 2004), it consists of two facilities: the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Exhibition Center.

On March 21, 2007, the CDA selected the Northland/Anschutz Entertainment Group proposal. It was revealed that Northland will assume total responsibility for the building paying for any and all losses, and will keep any profits. In 2012, put the contract out to bid with hopes of combining the operations with Rentschler Field.[8] In February 2013, Global Spectrum of Philadelphia, was chosen to take over both the XL Center and Rentschler Field[9] with Ovations Food Services taking over all food and beverage operations.

Hartford Civic Center[edit]

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum as set up for Monster Jam.

The Civic Center is the full-time home of the Hartford Wolf Pack AHL hockey team and part-time home of the University of Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams. In recent years, the UConn men have moved most of their important games—including the bulk of their Big East games—to the Coliseum. During the 2011–2012 season, for instance, they played 11 home games at the Coliseum and only eight at their on-campus facility, Gampel Pavilion. The Uconn Men's Hockey team will move all games off campus starting in the 2014-15 season and use the XL Center as it's primary home as the newest member of Hockey East

It was the home of the New England/Hartford Whalers of the WHA and NHL from 1975–1978 and 1980–1997, and the Hartford Hellions of the MISL from 1980–1981, and the New England Blizzard of the ABL from 1996–1998, and hosted occasional Boston Celtics home games from 1975–1995. It was the home of the Connecticut Coyotes and later the New England Sea Wolves of the Arena Football League. The arena seats 15,635 for ice hockey and 16,294 for basketball, 16,606 for center-stage concerts, 16,282 for end-stage concerts, and 8,239 for 3/4-end stage concerts, and contains 46 luxury suites and a 310-seat Coliseum Club, plus 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) of arena floor space, enabling it to be used for trade shows and conventions in addition to concerts, circuses, ice shows, sporting events and other events. The graduation ceremonies of Central Connecticut State University and other local colleges are also held annually at the XL Center.

History and collapse[edit]

The arena remains a site for popular concerts. 2007.

As originally built in 1975, it seated 10,507 for hockey, and served as the home of the then-New England Whalers for three years. In the early morning of January 18, 1978, just hours after the University of Connecticut Men's Basketball team defeated the University of Massachusetts, the weight of snow from the day's heavy snowstorm and a faulty roof design caused the Civic Center roof to collapse.[10] There were no injuries. The building was heavily renovated and re-opened January 17, 1980.

Seating capacity[edit]

The seating capacity for hockey has gone as followed:

  • 10,507 (1975–1979)
  • 14,460 (1979–1980)[11]
  • 14,510 (1980–1982)[12]
  • 14,817 (1983–1985)[13]
  • 15,126 (1985–1987)[14]
  • 15,223 (1987–1989)[14]
  • 15,635 (1989–present)[14]

Current arena[edit]

In September 2010, the arena was upgraded with a new center-hung scoreboard with four Sony Jumbotrons and a state-of-the-art sound system.[15]

Notable events[edit]

The XL Center has held many notable events including:

Exhibition center[edit]

The Exhibition Center consists of a 68,855-square-foot (6,397 m2) exhibit hall, a 16,080-square-foot (1,494 m2) assembly hall that can divide into two meeting rooms, plus seven meeting rooms totaling 7,390 square feet (687 m2) and two lobbies totaling 6,100 square feet (570 m2). It is used for trade shows, conventions, banquets, meetings and other events.

The surrounding shopping mall was torn down in 2004 and was replaced by street-level retail shops and a 36-story residential tower named Hartford 21 which opened in 2006 and is the tallest residential tower between New York City and Boston.

Possible new arena[edit]

With the XL Center approaching its 40th birthday, leaders in Hartford have been considering whether it should be replaced with a new facility. In 2006, developer Lawrence Gottesdiener began lobbying to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and move them to a new Hartford arena, but the Lemieux Group was reluctant to sell. The Penguins bid was officially off the table in March 2007, when the team announced that they were beginning construction on a new arena and that they signed a 30-year deal with the city of Pittsburgh to keep the team there well into the future. Penguins owner Mario Lemieux claimed at the arena's ground-breaking ceremony that relocating the franchise was never a possibility, but was instead a negotiation tactic to help the team get funding for the arena from both state and local officials.[20]

After the Pittsburgh bid fell through, Gottesdiener made another bid for the Nashville Predators franchise with the hope of bringing them to Hartford. That bid was lost in August 2007, as the Predators ownership ultimately decided to sell to a local holding company that would keep the team in Nashville.

Since that time, Mayor Eddie Pérez and former House Speaker James Amann continued to investigate the feasibility of a new downtown arena,[21] with Mayor Perez making statements to tear down the XL Center and replace it with the new arena as recently as March 2008. The current lease for the XL Center runs until 2013. After that, the facility must be turned over to the city of Hartford. By that point, the city wants to decide whether the building can be refurbished or if it has enough financial support to build a new arena. Mayor Eddie Perez met with a newly formed task force of city business leaders to determine the benefits of building a new arena. "In order to consider the new arena, we have to find out where the corporate support is for a new arena and that's the charge I gave the task force," Perez said. "My hope is that by late September of this year, they can give me an idea where the corporate support would be and how we can go about organizing that support. "The mayor said that he feels the city needs a new arena to attract more events and possibly a professional sports franchise. "For a region to survive, you need a dynamic urban center and entertainment is part of a dynamic urban center," said Oz Griebel of the Metro Hartford Alliance. "If you're going to offer entertainment venues, whether they be basketball games, hockey games, rodeos, concerts, you have to have a venue that people are going to want to come to." Perez said he thinks a new arena could bring about 1,500 new jobs to the city.

Early in 2010, Howard Baldwin, the former owner of the Whalers, moved back to Connecticut and formed Whalers Sports and Entertainment in an attempt to grow interest in hockey and the NHL in Connecticut. These efforts may lead to the building a state-of-the-art arena as a replacement for the aging XL Center. In November 2011, Howard Baldwin announced a $105 million proposal to renovate the XL Center as a part of an effort to improve attendance at current minor hockey and college basketball games and improve Hartford's chances at attracting a new NHL hockey team. In June 2012, it was announced that MSG was severing ties with Baldwin and his company, WSE. AEG assumed the business operations for the Connecticut Whale immediately after that, until Global Spectrum took over the Whale's business operations, and that of the XL Center in 2013.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ground is Broken For the Civic Center". Hartford Courant. April 2, 1971. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Opportunities for The Hartford Civic Center". The Connecticut Development Authority. p. 36. Retrieved March 30, 2008. 
  3. ^ Swift, Mike (January 9, 1995). "A Quiet Hartford Civic Center Turns 20 Today". Hartford Courant. Retrieved September 21, 2011. 
  4. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Modern concrete: Volume 40. Chicago: Pit & Quarry Publications. 1976. p. 20. 
  6. ^ a b "XL Center". Emporis. Retrieved September 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Failure Cases - Hartford Civic Center". Materials Education and Research Pathway. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  8. ^ Jacobs, Jeff (February 3, 2013). "Secrecy On XL Center, Rentschler Plans Isn't Helping Matters". Hartford Courant. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ Gosselin, Kenneth R. (February 7, 2013). "Philadelphia Group Picked To Run XL Center, Rentschler Field". Hartford Courant. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ Martin, Rachel. "Hartford Civic Center Arena Roof Collapse". University of Alabama at Birmingham. Retrieved November 20, 2009. 
  11. ^ "1979-80 Hartford Whalers Results and Schedule". Hockey Database. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ McGowen, Deane (March 22, 1981). "Duguay Gets 2 Goals As Rangers Win, 6-4". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ Berlet, Bruce (February 13, 1984). "Whalers Drill Oilers, 11-0, Flood Record Books". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Jacobs, Jeff (March 27, 1992). "Playoff Sales Are Down". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ Jacobs, Jeff (October 5, 2010). "XL Center Gets New Video Boards". Hartford Courant. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ "ECAC Men's Basketball Tournaments". Varsity Pride. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  17. ^ "1977 ECAC Men's Basketball Tournaments". Varsity Pride. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ "XL Center (Hartford, CT)". University of Connecticut Department of Athletics. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ Broun, Sara (October 6, 2011). "PBR Built Ford Tough Series Visits Hartford for First Time". Professional Bull Riders. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (April 7, 2006). "Developer Wants to Buy Penguins for Possible Move to Hartford". USA Today. Retrieved June 10, 2014. 
  21. ^ "City of Hartford Seek Consultant to Advise on Feasibility of Developing New Downtown Arena" (Press release). City of Hartford, Connecticut. August 30, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2007. 
  22. ^ Green, Rick (November 15, 2011). "NHL Back In Hartford In Five Years: Crazy Or Brilliant?". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Boston Garden
Springfield Civic Center
Home of the New England / Hartford Whalers
1974–1978
1980–1997
Succeeded by
Springfield Civic Center
Greensboro Coliseum
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
Home of the New England Sea Wolves
1999–2000
Succeeded by
Air Canada Centre
Preceded by
Olympic Saddledome
Host of NHL All-Star Game
1986
Succeeded by
St. Louis Arena
Preceded by
Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena
Home of the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale
1997-Present
Succeeded by
Current Arena