Some Hartford Whaler fans hope a proposed arena renovation could bring the NHL back to Connecticut.
While fans would like to see this happen, critics said it’s a long shot and the XL Center upgrades would cost the state way too much.
Joanne Cortesa said she cried when the Whalers left Hartford.
“I fell in love with the Whalers back in 1979-1980,” Cortesa said.
She's prayed the NHL could return, even though it seemed unlikely, but a proposed $250 million renovation has filled her with hope.
Leaders of the Capital Region Development Authority said the arena is woefully out of date.
Executive Director Mike Freimuth admits the renovation would not guarantee the NHL would return to Hartford but said “there is no hope without it, that's the bottom-line.”
The XL Center is 41 years old, making it one of the oldest arenas in the country.
Freimuth said if the state wants the building to remain relevant, it must pony up.
“We're basically trying to hold the building together right now. In order to attract the fans, the amenities that we'd like to have in order to attract the events, we have to step it up a notch,” Freimuth said.
Republican State Senator Joe Markley said he doubts the proposed renovations would entice an NHL team to return to Hartford, and said the state simply can’t afford it.
“I am concerned about the fiscal condition of my state. I think one of the things that's got us in this fix is spending money we don't have,” Markley said.
A meeting held on Tuesday about the proposal was the first step in a long road toward a renovation that may or may not happen.
The plan is at least two years away, and a lot of things would need to be worked out.
State taxpayers would foot the bill and the cash would likely come from bonding.
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