XL Center offered to Islanders - WFSB 3 Connecticut

XL Center offered to Islanders

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(MGN photo) (MGN photo)

Connecticut's governor said he made a pitch to bring NHL hockey back to the state.

Gov. Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin sent a letter inviting the New York Islanders to make their home in the capitol city.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn recently ended its relationship with the NHL franchise. 

The Islanders need a home before the beginning of the 2017-2018 season. They are currently 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 22 - 17.

Malloy said he's hoping the Islanders accept the offer and play in downtown Hartford at the XL Center, which was in the "process of installing a new ice floor and dasher boards." 

"The building has had some fan amenities and new team facilities upgraded over the last several years, and we have a program in place to undertake more work," Malloy said in the letter post marked Feb. 3.  

Connecticut has been without a NHL hockey team since the Hartford Whalers left the state to become the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.

"Hartford offers an NHL market with more Fortune 500 companies than many NHL cities including Columbus, Raleigh, Buffalo, and Nashville, with a substantial number of second-stage growth companies," Malloy said.

In the letter, Malloy points out that Hartford offers the following items:

  • 35% of households within 60 minutes have an average income over $100,000
  • 1.2 million people within a 30-minute drive
  • 3.1 million people within a 60-minute drive

Malloy went on to say that the state is "willing to work with private partners to develop the building you would be proud to call home and to adjust our development plans to the needs of your club and fans.”

The Hartford-New Haven television market is the largest in the country without a professional team from the major four sports.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has maintained that the Islanders are committed to New York, but this letter has allowed Hartford hockey fans to dream.

"It's awesome news. I know that there's still a booster club out there," Teddy Sznaj, of Hartford, said. "So there's still a lot of die hard fans and we would love to see them comeback." 

"The idea of having a hockey team in Hartford especially to recreate the days of the Whalers," Venkata Natarajan, of Hartford, said. "I think that would be absolutely awesome. I think the city's ready for it the states ready for it."  

To read the full letter, click here

Eyewitness News the first to learn the news that Malloy and Bronin were making a play to bring NHL hockey back to Connecticut.  

Eyewitness News will have more on this starting at 5 p.m.

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