Proposed XL Center renovations come with hefty price tag - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Proposed XL Center renovations come with hefty price tag

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XL Center renovations come with hefty price tag (WFSB) XL Center renovations come with hefty price tag (WFSB)

The XL Center in Hartford has been around for 45 years, and it is in need of more than just a face lift.

It is formerly known as the Civic Center, and most people in Connecticut have probably been there.

Despite a few minor renovations, it is losing attraction and business to newer, local venues like casinos.

In the 1970s, the roof collapsed and it was fixed and more seats were added.

"It can do what it has to do but the systems, the mechanical and the electrical, we doctored them. We played with them, upgraded them, but the fundamentals are 45 years old,” said Michael Freimuth, of the Capitol Region Development Authority.

The Capitol Region Development Authority oversees what has become the XL Center, and its executive director said they can’t afford not to make major improvements.

There is a plan to spend $250 million, but the request is coming at a bad time.

What officials really want are more seat options.

Fan zones were put in about one year ago, and they are popular and make money because people spend more on food and drinks.

The XL Center also can’t compete with the casinos, which have more money to spend on big attractions.

Besides the physical changes, they need to keep up with technology.

In many venues, people can use their phones to get tickets and can also look at replays, which can’t be done at the XL Center.

The renovations could take three years, and the center would have to be closed for about seven months each year until it is done.

The biggest challenge could be the price tag, at $250 million, at a time when the state is facing budget deficits.

"This is the worst time to lead with your chin. But the building has about four or five years left. It’s just fatigued,” Freimuth said.

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