The Capitol Region Development Authority said the XL Center is long past due for a facelift.
“In order to compete in today’s marketplace it needs to be significantly upgraded and that includes everything from sound systems to types of seats to the concessions," Michael Freimuth, a executive director with the authority, said.
What's needed in the short-term is a new ice making system, which he said, may be one of the oldest in the country for any level of professional hockey.
The new equipment and installation would cost about $2.5 million which he would want to see come through publicly financed bonds from the State of Connecticut.
Freimuth would prefer to see a large scale renovation of the XL Center rather than piecemeal repairs made year after year.
“I think the best bang for the buck comes with upgrading the building because that inherently delivers better revenue streams to the building. Today, simply maintaining systems patching them together, while we have an operating loss just continues those operating losses well into the future.”
Last year a study was commissioned on the future of the XL Center and what would be best for Hartford and the rest of the state. It was determined that it would cost $500 million to build a new arena, while it would cost $250 million for a wholesale renovation of the complex including new premium seating areas, a second concourse and an improved ice and performance surface.
No money was set aside by the governor or lawmakers in the 2017 budget for XL Center upgrades, which Freimuth said won't be an option in the future if they want the arena to be viable.
“It does need a shot in the arm and right now we’re just trying to hold it together. Long term, we really have to talk about replacing this facility.”