The XL Center (originally known as the Hartford Civic Center) is a multi-purpose arena and convention center located in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. It is owned by the City of Hartford and operated by Spectra. In December 2007, the Center was renamed when the arena's naming rights were sold to XL Group 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 Civic Center Mall, which was demolished in 2004. It consists of two facilities: the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Exhibition Center.
XL Center Logo
|Former names||Hartford Civic Center (1975–2007)|
|Address||1 Civic Center Plaza|
|Owner||City of Hartford|
Ice hockey: 14,750 (9,801 with curtain system)
|Surface||200 × 85 ft (hockey)|
|Broke ground||April 2, 1971|
|Opened||January 9, 1975|
|Closed||1978–1980 (roof collapse, renovations)|
|Construction cost||$30 million|
($140 million in 2018 dollars)
|Architect||Kling & Associates|
Danos and Associates
|Project manager||Gilbane Building Company|
|Structural engineer||Fraoli, Blum, and Yesselman, Engineers|
|General contractor||William L. Crow Construction Company|
|Hartford Wolf Pack / Connecticut Whale (AHL) (1997–present)|
UConn Huskies (NCAA)
Men's Basketball (1975–1978, 1980–present, part time)
Women's Basketball (1975–1978, 1980–present, part time)
Men's Ice Hockey (2013/14-present)
New England / Hartford Whalers (WHA / NHL) (1975–1978, 1980–1997)
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)
Hartford Hellcats / Connecticut Pride (CBA) (199?-2000)
On March 21, 2007, the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) 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, the CRDA, put the contract out to bid with hopes of combining the operations with Rentschler Field. In February 2013, Global Spectrum of Philadelphia, was chosen to take over both the XL Center and Rentschler Field with Ovations Food Services taking over all food and beverage operations.
Hartford Civic Center
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 (UConn) men's and women's basketball teams and the UConn Huskies men's ice hockey team. Starting in the late 1990s, UConn men's basketball moved most of their important games—including the bulk of their Big East Conference 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. This practice continued when the Huskies joined the American Athletic Conference, successor to the original Big East, in 2013. The UConn men's hockey team uses the XL Center as its primary home as the newest men's member of Hockey East.
It was the home of the New England/Hartford Whalers of the WHA and NHL from 1975 to 1978 and 1980 to 1997, and the Hartford Hellions of the MISL from 1980 to 1981, and the New England Blizzard of the ABL from 1996 to 1998, and hosted occasional Boston Celtics home games from 1975 to 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 ¾-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.
Early history and roof collapse
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, the weight of snow from the day's heavy snowstorm caused the Civic Center's roof to collapse. Engineering analyses during litigation following the collapse indicated that compression members were overloaded through undersizing and underestimation of the probable loadings, and that lateral bracing of individual members was insufficient. Investigations attributed the design issues to the unprecedented use of and trust in computer analysis. An absence of peer review for the novel structure and design process, and fragmentation of oversight responsibility during construction were also cited as contributing factors. Evidence showed that the roof had started to fail during construction, with bowed compression members. These distortions, and an unpredicted degree of deflection in the structure, were not investigated before the collapse. There were no injuries due to the collapse. The building was heavily renovated and re-opened January 17, 1980.
The Arena hosted the Hartford Whalers from January 11, 1980 to April 13, 1997. Shortly thereafter the team relocated to Raleigh to become the Carolina Hurricanes. In 1994, new owner Peter Karmanos purchased the team and pledged to keep the Whalers in Connecticut until 1998, unless they could not sell over 11,000 season tickets. After failed negotiations to build a new downtown arena for the Whalers with then-Governor John G. Rowland, on March 25, 1997, Karmanos announced that the team would leave. The New York Rangers, looking to capitalize on Hartford as a potential market, placed its farm team there to become the Hartford Wolf Pack starting in 1997. After a short stint as the Connecticut Whale, they reverted to the Wolf Pack moniker in 2013. Renovations were complete in October 2014, which is set to serve the arena until its fiftieth birthday.
Current arena and recent renovations
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. The Connecticut State Legislature set aside $35 million in funding for improvements to the XL Center that began in early spring 2014 and completed in time for the start of the 2014-15 seasons of the Wolf Pack and UConn men's hockey in October. Improvements included upgrades to the mechanical system, locker rooms and concourse, replacing jumbotrons with a new high definition video board, as well as aesthetic improvements such as a new bar area inside the arena and luxury seating in the lower bowl. A portion of the $35 million allocation went towards a study on the arena's long-term viability; either more major renovations or replacing it with a new facility.
The XL Center has held many notable events including:
- The ECAC New England Region Tournament, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men's college basketball tournament organized by the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), took place at the Hartford Civic Center on March 3 and 5, 1977. The tournament champion received an automatic bid to the 1977 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
- The 1982 Big East Conference and 1988–1990 America East Conference men's basketball tournaments were also here, as well as occasional games of the UConn Huskies men's basketball team.
- The PBR (Professional Bull Riders) made their first-ever visit to the XL Center for a Built Ford Tough Series (now known as the Unleash the Beast Series) event the weekend of October 7–9, 2011.
- The arena hosted the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions in 2016.
- The arena has hosted many professional wrestling events; including 1990 Survivor Series, WrestleMania XI, 2000 No Way Out, 2004 Vengeance, and 2019 Money in the Bank.
|November 11, 1975||Atlanta Hawks||L||100-91||RS||10,591|
|December 17, 1975||Kansas City Kings||W||104-118||RS||11,243|
|January 13, 1976||Portland Trail Blazers||W||94-106||RS||11,243|
|March 9, 1976||New Orleans Jazz||L||117-99||RS||11,230|
|April 6, 1976||Cleveland Cavaliers||L||101-92||RS||11,243|
|October 28, 1976||Buffalo Braves||W||105-112||RS||10,608|
|January 11, 1977||Houston Rockets||W||101-105||RS||10,011|
|February 15, 1977||Detroit Pistons||W||99-109||RS||9,879|
|March 1, 1977||Golden State Warriors||L||101-94||RS||11,273|
|March 30, 1977||Chicago Bulls||W||88-90||RS||11,089|
|April 9, 1977||San Antonio Spurs||W||105-120||RS||10,859|
|October 25, 1977||Atlanta Hawks||W||103-110||RS||6,590|
|December 13, 1977||New Jersey Nets||W||108-122||RS||5,518|
|January 5, 1978||Phoenix Suns||L||121-111||RS||10,019|
|February 26, 1980||Atlanta Hawks||W||97-108||RS||15,622|
|March 18, 1980||Indiana Pacers||W||102-114||RS||15,622|
|October 23, 1980||New York Knicks||L||109-107||RS||12,941|
|November 9, 1980||Chicago Bulls||W||105-111||RS||8,627|
|December 7, 1980||Washington Bullets||L||113-103||RS||11,430|
|January 19, 1981||Detroit Pistons||W||90-92||RS||9,941|
|March 13, 1981||Indiana Pacers||L||101-94||RS||15,622|
|November 13, 1981||New Jersey Nets||W||97-11||RS||11,753|
|December 11, 1981||Atlanta Hawks||W||86-94||RS||13,369|
|January 10, 1982||Detroit Pistons||W||124-134||RS||15,429|
|November 30, 1982||Detroit Pistons||L||123-116||RS||11,762|
|January 31, 1983||Chicago Bulls||W||104-110||RS||12,742|
|March 7, 1983||New Jersey Nets||W||114-121||RS||15,165|
|December 9, 1983||Denver Nuggets||W||90-119||RS||13,374|
|January 20, 1984||Indiana Pacers||W||125-132||RS||13,134|
|March 2, 1984||Chicago Bulls||W||100-104||RS||14,529|
|December 11, 1984||New Jersey Nets||W||121-130||RS||13,357|
|January 29, 1985||Detroit Pistons||W||130-131||RS||15,685|
|February 22, 1985||Chicago Bulls||W||105-115||RS||15,685|
|December 10, 1985||Atlanta Hawks||W||110-114||RS||14,493|
|February 23, 1986||Indiana Pacers||W||98-113||RS||15,124|
|March 18, 1986||Cleveland Cavaliers||W||96-126||RS||15,134|
|December 2, 1986||Washington Bullets||L||117-109||RS||15,134|
|February 23, 1987||New Jersey Nets||W||103-116||RS||15,134|
|March 24, 1987||Cleveland Cavaliers||W||88-111||RS||15,134|
|November 23, 1987||Chicago Bulls||L||107-102||RS||15,134|
|February 22, 1988||New York Knicks||W||93-95||RS||15,134|
|March 11, 1988||Indiana Pacers||W||112-122||RS||15,134|
|November 22, 1988||Cleveland Cavaliers||L||114-102||RS||15,239|
|February 24, 1989||Milwaukee Bucks||W||112-125||RS||15,239|
|March 13, 1989||New Jersey Nets||W||91-114||RS||15,239|
|November 14, 1989||Philadelphia 76ers||W||94-96||RS||15,239|
|February 6, 1990||Milwaukee Bucks||L||119-106||RS||15,239|
|March 9, 1990||Washington Bullets||L||115-108||RS||15,239|
|November 26, 1990||Miami Heat||W||101-118||RS||15,239|
|February 22, 1991||New Jersey Nets||W||99-111||RS||15,239|
|March 4, 1991||Indiana Pacers||W||101-126||RS||15,239|
|November 25, 1991||Washington Bullets||W||108-121||RS||14,678|
|February 21, 1992||Charlotte Hornets||W||110-113||RS||15,239|
|March 13, 1992||New Jersey Nets||L||110-108||RS||15,239|
|November 23, 1992||Atlanta Hawks||L||101-97||RS||13,299|
|February 9, 1993||Milwaukee Bucks||W||92-104||RS||14,137|
|March 28, 1993||Washington Bullets||W||113-114||RS||15,239|
|November 22, 1993||Indiana Pacers||L||102-71||RS||13,200|
|February 17, 1994||New Jersey Nets||L||117-98||RS||12,588|
|March 27, 1994||Philadelphia 76ers||W||122-124||RS||13,259|
|November 22, 1994||Milwaukee Bucks||L||116-94||RS||12,829|
|February 23, 1995||Orlando Magic||W||117-119||RS||15,242|
|April 15, 1995||Detroit Pistons||W||104-129||RS||12,979|
|October 14, 2009||Toronto Raptors||W||90–106||PS||10,117|
|October 16, 2010||New York Knicks||W||84-97||PS||15,138|
|October 13, 2012||New York Knicks||L||98-95||PS||14,218|
|October 8, 2014||New York Knicks||W||86-106||PS||8,462|
International basketball games
|January 27, 2020||United States ||0-0||UConn Huskies||Exhibition||-|
International hockey games
|December 27, 1976||Soviet Union ||2–5||-|
|August 28, 1987||Finland ||1–4||8,508|
|September 4, 1987||Soviet Union ||5-1||14,838|
|January 7, 1989||CSKA Moscow ||6–3||-|
|December 27, 1989||Krylya Sovetov Moscow ||3–4 (OT)||-|
|January 3, 1991||Dynamo Moscow ||0-0||-|
|December 14, 2019||Canada ||1-4||‘’’||7,126|
The XL Center serves as the second home for the University of Connecticut's men's and women's basketball programs. At the start of the 2014–15 season the UConn men's ice hockey program moved to the XL Center as a condition of its joining Hockey East.
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
With the XL Center over 40 years old, 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 the venue now known as PPG Paints 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.
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, 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.
On February 19, 2015, the CRDA released a case study on the future of the arena. The report presents three options. The first option would be to completely tear down the existing arena down and construct a new one. The second option would be to expand the existing arena and completely rebuild the interior. The third and final option is to neither expand nor construct a new arena, and rather overhaul the current site. Each option will come complete with additional luxury boxes and suites, and other amenities up to par with comparable NHL facilities. The study estimates 2–3 years of construction time and a $250-$500 million price tag.
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- "2016 Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions takes center stage beginning Sept. 15". usagym.org. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
- "1979-80 Hartford Whalers Results and Schedule". Hockey Database. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
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- Berlet, Bruce (February 13, 1984). "Whalers Drill Oilers, 11-0, Flood Record Books". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Jacobs, Jeff (March 27, 1992). "Playoff Sales Are Down". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Clinton, Jared (February 20, 2015). "Hartford Looking at Upgrades for XL Center – Could the NHL Come Back?". The Hockey News. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
- Basketball Reference https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/BOS
- "Connecticut joins Hockey East". Associated Press. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Evans Scores Twice as Huskies Shutout Merrimack, 5-0". UConn Huskies. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Huskies Knock Off #3 Boston College, 1-0 in Front of XL Sellout Crowd". UConn Huskies. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- "Huskies Win Seventh-Straight on Letunov's OT Winner". UConn Huskies. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Associated Press (April 7, 2006). "Developer Wants to Buy Penguins for Possible Move to Hartford". USA Today. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- "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.
- Green, Rick (November 15, 2011). "NHL Back In Hartford In Five Years: Crazy Or Brilliant?". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
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