XL Center

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
XL Center Logo
Former namesHartford Civic Center (1975–2007)
Address1 Civic Center Plaza
LocationHartford, Connecticut
Coordinates41°46′06″N 72°40′37″W
OwnerCity of Hartford[1]
OperatorGlobal Spectrum
CapacityBasketball: 15,564
Ice hockey: 14,750 (9,801 with curtain system)
Surface200 × 85 ft (hockey)
Broke groundApril 2, 1971[2]
OpenedJanuary 9, 1975
Closed1978–1980 (roof collapse, renovations)
Construction cost$30 million[3]
($140 million in 2018 dollars[4])
ArchitectKling & Associates
Danos and Associates[5]
Project managerGilbane Building Company[6]
Structural engineerFraoli, Blum, and Yesselman, Engineers[7]
General contractorWilliam L. Crow Construction Company[6]
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)
Official Website

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.[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

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 gamesincluding the bulk of their Big East Conference gamesto 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 thenNew 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.[10] 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.[11] 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:

Boston Celtics


International basketball games

Date Opponent Result Home Game Type Attendance
January 27, 2020United States 0-0UConn HuskiesExhibition-

International hockey games

Date Away Score Home Attendance
December 27, 1976Soviet Union 2–5 New England Whalers-
August 28, 1987Finland 1–4 United States8,508
September 4, 1987Soviet Union 5-1 United States14,838
January 7, 1989CSKA Moscow 6–3 Hartford Whalers-
December 27, 1989Krylya Sovetov Moscow 3–4 (OT) Hartford Whalers-
January 3, 1991Dynamo Moscow 0-0 Hartford Whalers-
December 14, 2019Canada 1-4‘’’ United States’’’7,126 [23]

UConn Huskies

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.[24]

UConn Hockey Attendance Records

Date Opponent Result Attendance
February 9, 2019MerrimackW 5-08,211[25]
November 15, 2014#3 Boston CollegeW 1-08,089[26]
November 22, 2014#3 Boston UniversityL 2-57,712
February 16, 2018#20 Boston UniversityW 5-4OT7,372[27]

Exhibition center

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.[28]

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,[29] 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.[30]

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.

See also


  1. "Opportunities for The Hartford Civic Center" (PDF). The Connecticut Development Authority. p. 36. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 12, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2008.
  2. "Ground is Broken For the Civic Center". Hartford Courant. April 2, 1971. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  3. Swift, Mike (January 9, 1995). "A Quiet Hartford Civic Center Turns 20 Today". Hartford Courant. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  4. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  5. Modern concrete: Volume 40. Chicago: Pit & Quarry Publications. 1976. p. 20.
  6. "XL Center". Emporis. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  7. "Failure Cases - Hartford Civic Center". Materials Education and Research Pathway. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. 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. Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  11. Jacobs, Jeff (October 5, 2010). "XL Center Gets New Video Boards". Hartford Courant. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  12. "ECAC Men's Basketball Tournaments". Varsity Pride. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  13. "1977 ECAC Men's Basketball Tournaments". Varsity Pride. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  14. "XL Center (Hartford, CT)". University of Connecticut Department of Athletics. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  15. Broun, Sara (October 6, 2011). "PBR Built Ford Tough Series Visits Hartford for First Time". Professional Bull Riders. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  16. "2016 Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions takes center stage beginning Sept. 15". usagym.org. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  17. "1979-80 Hartford Whalers Results and Schedule". Hockey Database. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  18. McGowen, Deane (March 22, 1981). "Duguay Gets 2 Goals As Rangers Win, 6-4". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  19. Berlet, Bruce (February 13, 1984). "Whalers Drill Oilers, 11-0, Flood Record Books". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  20. Jacobs, Jeff (March 27, 1992). "Playoff Sales Are Down". Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  21. Clinton, Jared (February 20, 2015). "Hartford Looking at Upgrades for XL Center – Could the NHL Come Back?". The Hockey News. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  22. Basketball Reference https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/BOS
  23. https://www.courant.com/sports/hc-sp-womens-hockey-usa-canada-rivalry-series-1215-20191215-55y45lo5knbttjoi2roimdaudi-story.html
  24. "Connecticut joins Hockey East". Associated Press. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  25. "Evans Scores Twice as Huskies Shutout Merrimack, 5-0". UConn Huskies. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  26. "Huskies Knock Off #3 Boston College, 1-0 in Front of XL Sellout Crowd". UConn Huskies. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  27. "Huskies Win Seventh-Straight on Letunov's OT Winner". UConn Huskies. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  28. Associated Press (April 7, 2006). "Developer Wants to Buy Penguins for Possible Move to Hartford". USA Today. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  29. "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.
  30. Green, Rick (November 15, 2011). "NHL Back In Hartford In Five Years: Crazy Or Brilliant?". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Boston Garden
Springfield Civic Center
Home of the New England / Hartford Whalers
Succeeded by
Springfield Civic Center
Greensboro Coliseum
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
Home of the New England Sea Wolves
Succeeded by
Air Canada Centre
Preceded by
Olympic Saddledome
Host of NHL All-Star Game
Succeeded by
St. Louis Arena
Preceded by
Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena
Home of the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale
Succeeded by
Current Arena
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
Host of WrestleMania
Succeeded by
Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim
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