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The Voice of Reason

XL Center Renovation/Replacement Plans

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I can't wait to see some more details of the inside of the arena. The only shot of the inside shows the upper boxes being extended around the ends of the arena, and some mid-level boxes being added at the center of the rink on both sides. The large opening at ice level on the right hand side of the diagram makes me wonder. Why get rid of those seats down there? Maybe just for basketball with roll-in bleacher seats for hockey? I'm excited for this news. Hopefully it isnt all just smoke.

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While a new arena would be nice, it's just not gonna happen right now in this economy. Although looking at these plans, i think Howard might have a winner here, and at a bargain to boot.

Edited by drc72

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I am so tired of the "in this economy" not you using it DRC72, just the media and everywhere using it as an excuse.

there are housing developments being built right now in CT, nice fancy places, there is a trend of lowering unemployment, and there is improved consumer sentiment. is a boom time? NO, its a slow turn around, and honestly the best time to be investing in the city. I think everyone was spoilt by 10 years of unprecedented good times that they expect us to rubber band back to those same good times, and its just not gonna happen.

I may be a rarity, but everyone.... everyone I know has a job now. and yet most of us lost our jobs at one point in the last 3 years, but everyone is back to work and well some better off than before, most at the same level and a few are at a lower place. this includes all my friends in construction!!! my buddies that own construction companies are making enough that they are hiring again. so, honestly, not good times, but not terrible either, and we need to collectively accept that the wheels are not gonna fall off, and we can finance a 105 million arena and just get back to it!

Hell we have 2 housing projects planned in hartford, there are new condo towers being proposed and actually being built in MIAMI.... things are getting better. Millwaukee has a 30 story apartment/condo tower under construction. Millwaukee is not a hotbed kind of town, so there is clearly some economic activity out there that is positive! Minnesota has over 1000 units of new apartments and condos in the planning or accepted stage. not a boom, but I am tire of the assumption that we will go back to 2005 instantly after a recession. a slow recovery holds well for a prolonged stable growth period.

but on subject... :) I think this is the most sane plan we have seen in a while, and it might actually get done when the public are in a position to stomach it. totally agree!

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I rather see a new arena built in a different location - possibly a couple of blocks to the north.

To me, an arena is like a bookend. The feel of the city is usually quite different on opposite sides. For example, downtown development might thrive more on one side while parking garages dominate the other side. The bigger the building, the bigger the effect. Perhaps a large unstoppable city would develop all around the building.

That is why I say move the bookend out a bit, extend Allyn Street to Trumbull, and start rethinking Church street by getting rid of that structure that spans the street.

If only there was available land.

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I rather see a new arena built in a different location - possibly a couple of blocks to the north.

To me, an arena is like a bookend. The feel of the city is usually quite different on opposite sides. For example, downtown development might thrive more on one side while parking garages dominate the other side. The bigger the building, the bigger the effect. Perhaps a large unstoppable city would develop all around the building.

That is why I say move the bookend out a bit, extend Allyn Street to Trumbull, and start rethinking Church street by getting rid of that structure that spans the street.

If only there was available land.

I agree 100%. The new arena should be built north of I 84 on the barren wasteland of parking there. Most of the modern arenas do seem to have a front and back end and the feel is different on the back end. Your bookend analogy is perfect. It should basically serve as a transition point between downtown and the rest of the city. I do think that we should pursue the renovations that Baldwin has proposed at this current juncture though. The renovation plans may be the most we can even hope for at this point. If it's successful and does entice the NHL back then the chances of a new, pro-quality arena at some point down the line increases exponentially.

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i don't really know how they will add more luxury boxes, if they do then they would have lower capacity. capacity for hockey is only 15,000. any lower capacity then 16,000 the nhl is not going to put an nhl team in that arena. the drawings look cool but i still think a new arena is needed. the building is 40 years old and a renovation would be just a bandaid.

Untrue, the MTS Centre in Winnipeg holds 15,004 for hockey, and they just got a team...

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The luxury boxes produce much more revenue than the regular seats. So taking out seats for luxury boxes is a good financial trade. Although I like bigger arenas because they make you feel like you're at a big time event, revenue is the most important number, much more important that total seats.

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Some perspective on the Hartford Civic Center.

The Hartford Civic Center was built in 1975 at a cost of 30 million dollars.

So it has been open for 37 years and is a good bet to reach 40. In short, it cost about $750,000 a year to construct. Damn that's cheap.

For Larry Bird, Wayne Gretzky, Maya Moore, Kemba Walker, Lady Gaga, the Grateful Dead, Ricky Martin, Circuses and Obama the building has enriched the lives of everyone in the state and put Hartford on sports and entertainment pages all over the country.

To build a new arena, to do it right, will cost a $150 million But say it lasts 40 years, that's less than $4 million a year. Of course, in 40 years it will cost $4 million to ride the bus. Inflation don't you know. To the good, if the building is run efficiently, it produce a profit, thereby reducing the overall cost of the building. Not to mention the economic impact on bars, restaurants, and stores over 40 years.

The the most important reason to build a new arena is not economic. It is the enrichment in the quality of life of the citizenry. To bring the next generation of world class performers to the city. To make the city a better place to live. To keep Hartford relevant as a national city. To be a destination and not a drive-by or fly-over city.

Four million a year, it seems cheap to me.

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I think it would be a home run if the state decided to allow a casino downtown and one of the specs that the state submitted to prospective developers called for a new 20,000 seat, state of the art Arena. 2 birds one stone. I think that Bridgeport and Hartford should both be allowed to have casinos downtown. I think Malloy would be much more likely to embrace this sort of idea than any of our other recent governors. I'm glad he is trying to allow for Sunday sales of liquor and also letting bars and restaurants stay open later during the week. You can't be a boring, uptight state and expect to be an entertainment destination.

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Good read, and good catch!

27 games in the confrence last season, so about 13 at home.

but thats 3 games per season in a 10 team league

after Notre Dame joins it would be 30 games and UConn would make a 12 team league with 33 League games.

Thats an aweful lot of league games for college 30-35 is normal for the entire season in Hockey east right now including the non conference games, so with 33 conffence games and say 7 non conference its a long college season!

it is possible they would switch to 2-game series for the season, but that kinda sucks without the rubber match.

22 league games in that scenerio

either way we are looking at 11-16 more hockey games to be played at the XL center downtown!!!

Current average attendance for UConn is 750/game

http://www.collegeho.../attendance.php

Most of the hockey east schools pull over 3000, so lets hope the fans show up with the better competition and accesable venue!

As TB says, this should help with the new arena plans!

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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Good read, and good catch!

27 games in the confrence last season, so about 13 at home.

but thats 3 games per season in a 10 team league

after Notre Dame joins it would be 30 games and UConn would make a 12 team league with 33 League games.

Thats an aweful lot of league games for college 30-35 is normal for the entire season in Hockey east right now including the non conference games, so with 33 conffence games and say 7 non conference its a long college season!

it is possible they would switch to 2-game series for the season, but that kinda sucks without the rubber match.

22 league games in that scenerio

either way we are looking at 11-16 more hockey games to be played at the XL center downtown!!!

Current average attendance for UConn is 750/game

http://www.collegeho.../attendance.php

Most of the hockey east schools pull over 3000, so lets hope the fans show up with the better competition and accesable venue!

As TB says, this should help with the new arena plans!

You would think that attendance would rise as UConn entertained better teams. UConn versus Boston College is a natural draw.

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I would think so..

Also Downtown games should help too.

Check the attendances those Midwest schools get!?!?!??? holy crapola!

Hell, 2000 visitors has a noticible affect on downtown, so if Uconn were to get to that point I think these additional 11-16 dates would be a nice gain for the bars and resturants downtown.

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I have been rethinking my position on what the city/state should do with the XL center and in general an Arena in Hartford.

I have in the past advocated for a brand new arena in the current location, but I have to say that I am not fully behind that thought any more.

While I still maintain that the end result would be the best possible location, I am struggling with what becomes of the city during that 2-3 year period with no facility.

I think the best option is North of I-84

I still think there is a need to put the Arena as close as possible to the train station as the potential of taking the future commuter rail is worth too much to ignore.

With AHL and NCAA hockey as well as NCAA mens and womens basketball being forced out of the city for 2-3 seasons, the damage would be pretty severe. add in concerts and other events and its even worse 900,000 or so downtown visitors per year literally keep several resturants in business.

If the current arena were to close it would be a few steps back for downtown until the new facility opened.

If all of the new downtown housing were built I suppose it could soften the blow, but there would also be less of a reason to live downtown until the venue re-opened.

So Rather than the existing site I am now leaning for Site 3

bound by Main, Windsor, I-84 and Pleasant streets...

Under the scenerio of "site 3" I think the best plan for the state would be to "go big" and build a new arena rather than rennovate. I would also want to see the construction of two air rights garages overtop part of I-84 between High and Trumbull.

They would need to be built so that they contain ground floor retail and other pedestrian friendly design elements. Heck even design them so they can later support an office or residential tower on top.

I also think it would be critical to bond additional funds so that at completion of the new arena, the old one would be replaced by something useful and functional as as to better the city. Even if a park or Plaza replaced a large portion the XL center footprint I would be supportice as long as there was guaranteed development around this park/plaza such as Lining the Southern edge of a new street connecting Allyn and Pratt, and something to replace the church street garage.

I however also think that there is a chance for an arena fitting over near the conn mutual land now that the capital west is being removed and the highway/railroad being realigned.

There would be just a couple of small buildings that could be moved even, not destroyed. and it seems a new arena would be built quite close to the train station.

Edited by The Voice of Reason

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I have been rethinking my position on what the city/state should do with the XL center and in general an Arena in Hartford.

I have in the past advocated for a brand new arena in the current location, but I have to say that I am not fully behind that thought any more.

While I still maintain that the end result would be the best possible location, I am struggling with what becomes of the city during that 2-3 year period with no facility.

I think the best option is North of I-84

I still think there is a need to put the Arena as close as possible to the train station as the potential of taking the future commuter rail is worth too much to ignore.

With AHL and NCAA hockey as well as NCAA mens and womens basketball being forced out of the city for 2-3 seasons, the damage would be pretty severe. add in concerts and other events and its even worse 900,000 or so downtown visitors per year literally keep several resturants in business.

If the current arena were to close it would be a few steps back for downtown until the new facility opened.

If all of the new downtown housing were built I suppose it could soften the blow, but there would also be less of a reason to live downtown until the venue re-opened.

So Rather than the existing site I am now leaning for Site 3

bound by Main, Windsor, I-84 and Pleasant streets...

I agree 100%. I've always maintained that North of 84 was the way to go. It accomplishes so much. It expands downtown northward and gets beautiful new development into an area that had previously been a marginal wasteland. With the new public safely complex nearby it would certainly help to spur further redevelopment. This area is really basically just a 5 minute walk from the current location and losing the current arena while a new one gets built would truly be devastating. There is no reason to stop the events from coming downtown for 2 years while a new arena is built.

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i should add.. an arena is "low density" the safety complex is low density. they would need some mass and some height in any anscilliary development so as to actually extend the city north of i-84

even something as simple as including a 5 story apartment would go along way between the 2 sprawling buildings

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http://www.theday.co...ORT01/307129536

Looks like the XL Center is possibly in for an upgrade. I'm not really sure how I feel about that since I really want a new building but if that can't be done then retrofitting the XL is the best possible option.

I hate that this guy brings up building a new arena in the center of the state though. It'll never happen and I understand why people not from Hartford think it makes sense but large arenas are meant for major urban centers not for off the highway between two cities. Look at the fate of the Izod Center. That's what happens when you try to build an arena in an undeveloped area. The Prudential Center has now easily surpassed them and that is in Newark. Not exactly a city that everyone loves to visit. And if Newark can get a new arena there is no reason why Hartford shouldn't be able to.

But I digress, if a retrofit of the XL is the best we can hope for then I really want to see a serious one, not a fresh coat of paint but like the article mentions wider concourses, new seats and bathrooms, etc. They also really need to figure out how to make the exterior more attractive. The H21 side looks good but when you walk around the Church or Ann St. sides it's hideous.

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The author is a bit arrogant and presumptive in that article for sure and I take a few other exceptions with it...

but It is an interesting read just the same.

We know that UCONN is the biggest tenant of the building and they have been to be frank, since 1997

What it sounds like however is that they are starting to maybe concider acting like it.

and thats fine with me, UConn spent money on all of their other sports and the Storrs campus and Rentschler field etc etc etc...

the result now is that they are a top sports university with a solid acedemic repution to back that up. they generally have world class facilities for their sports too. One exception is the XL center, and as it passes to city ownership and its debt is retired, it makes sense for UConn to look at options.

A rennovation sucks in my opinion, but if it buys the building some time with a long term plan to build a new arena, I am fine with that.

but at what cost, and what level of redevelopment are we talking about?

if we are talking about 100 million, I might not be thrilled.

I think really, honestly, best case, they should invest whatever they think will get 10 more years out of the building, and that the city and state should start the prep for a new building to be built at that time.

thinking of my xl center experiences.... the playing surfaces are fine. the seating is honestly acceptable, its just as good or bad as anything else at most arenas. but the real issue is luxury boxes, concourses, bathrooms, concessions, the angle and pitch of the seating bowl, sightlines in the upper bowl, and im my opinion the most important of all...Interaction with the street.... all the streets as HT says. the Ann/Church street sides is an insult to the city.

so to me, the little things, meaning the cheap things are fine, the big ticket fixes are the issues. how do you widen a concourse on a building that is mostly poured concrete/cinder blocks?

how do you change the pitch of the bowl? how do you change the location, quality and number of luxury boxes?

sure they could rennovate the bathrooms and tweak concessions, but the concoarses are still cramped and bla bla bla

anyways, enough of that. Id say they put 5 million into the building to spruce it up, but then set up bonds now while lending is cheap to acquire land and do infrastructure improvements for a new arena to be built in 2022, opening in 2014.

this way we have something planned with a future location tied into transportation that will integrate with rail and bus and whatever that can spur development over the next 10 years before during and after construction.

it would also give hope/promise to a potential investor to get a NHL team lined up and give UConn a guaranteed future home in the future.

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Edmonton will NOT lose a team. that city is BOOMING right now and the Oil industry is only getting stronger up there. Thats just negotiation tactics

Seattle is a legit threat against Hartford getting a team.

Not sure the city can easily support 2 new winter sports teams. That kind of thing takes time to develop. The Sonics make sense as there is some built in loyalty, but Hockey might be a tough sell. You have to think that Seattle is unique in that it is also served by the countries most popular soccer team. They average 36,000+ per game, so loyalties in that city are already split between Baseball, Football, Soccer and maybe Basketball again. Hockey fans have had Vancouver just over the border for 70 years! (OK less because I think the Canucks are only like 30-40 years old)

Anyways, we are just not in a position to enter the game yet sadly.

I think we need the commuter rail up and running to help get people into any new arena, and to "shrink" the region a bit for pro sports to work here.

If we act and feel like New Haven Hartford Springfield.... we can actually financially support a team quite easily

as just Hartford, we struggle much more!

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