Ice Hockey Wiki
XL Center
The Mall, The Civic Center
Location 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Broke ground 1972
Opened January 9 1975
Closed 1978-1980 (roof collapse, renovations)
Owner City of Hartford
Operator Northland Investment Corporation / Anschutz Entertainment Group
Former names Hartford Civic Center (1975-2007)
Tenants UConn Huskies (National Collegiate Athletic Association) (1980-present)
Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) (1997-present)
New England/Hartford Whalers (WHA / NHL) (1975-78, 1980-1997)
New England Blizzard (American Basketball League) (1996-1998)
Connecticut Coyotes (Arena Football League) (1995-1996)
New England Sea Wolves (AFL) (1999-2000)
Boston Celtics (NBA) (part-time, 1975-1995)
Hartford Hellions (Major Soccer League) (1980–1981)
Capacity Concerts: 16,606
Basketball: 16,294
Hockey: 15,635

The XL Center, formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center, is a sports and convention complex located in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, owned by the City of Hartford and operated by Northland Investment Corporation/Anschutz Entertainment Group under contract with the Connecticut Development Authority (CDA). The arena is ranked the 28th largest among college basketball arenas. Originally located adjacent to a shopping mall (Civic Center Mall, which was demolished in 2004), it was originally built in 1975 and consists of two facilities: the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Exhibition Center.

Recently, the CDA debated who will run the arena from 2007-08 through 2012-13. The applicants were:

  • Former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin and arena manager Global Spectrum
  • Northland Investment Corp. and arena manager Anschutz Entertainment Group
  • Madison Square Garden

On March 21, 2007, the CDA 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 December 2007, the arena's naming rights were sold to XL Capital insurance company.

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum set up for Monster Jam.

The Coliseum is the full-time home of the Hartford Wolf Pack AHL hockey team and part-time home of the University of Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams. It was the home of the New England/Hartford Whalers of the WHA and NHL from 1975-1978 and 1980-1997 and the New England Blizzard of the American Basketball League from 1996-1998, and hosted occasional Boston Celtics home games from 1975-1995. It was the home of 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 3/4-end stage concerts, and contains 46 luxury suites and a 310-seat Coliseum Club, plus 25,000 sq. ft. 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 arena advertising a concert in 2007.

As originally built in 1975, it seated 10,507 for hockey, and served as the home of the then-New England Whalers for three years. On the evening of January 18, 1978, just hours after the University of Connecticut Men's Basketball team defeated the University of Massachusetts, the weight of snow from the day's heavy snowstorm was too much for the Civic Center roof to withstand and it collapsed. There were no injuries. The building was heavily renovated and re-opened January 17, 1980.

The building hosted the 1986 NHL All-Star Game.

Possible New Arena

With the XL Center approaching its 30th birthday 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 a new 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 even admitted at the arena's ground-breaking ceremony that relocating the franchise was never a possibility, but instead it was a negotiation tactic to help the team get funding for the arena from both state and local officials.

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 House Speaker James Amann have continued to investigate the feasibility of a new downtown arena, 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. However, talks of a new arena have been dying since late 2007, and an NHL franchise looks unlikely for the foreseeable future. In 2013 the debate of renovating or building a new facility came up again as $35 million was spent to upgrade some of the public areas (concourses), which was admittedly a stop gap measure.  The hopes of an NHL team returning to Hartford was raised in 2015 when the NHL announced it was opening the process of expansion. The future of the Hartford Wolfpack was mentioned as being bleak as the most probably scenario has the New York Islanders relocating their AHL affiliated to a renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum sometime around 2018.  But in order for this to be done they would have to find another team to move in to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  This would allow the site in Hartford to be demolished and have a new arena built on the site of the now 40 plus year old building.  With this time frame the city of Hartford would be out of the running for an expansion team which the NHL was leaning towards having start play in 2017-18, but would open the door for a relocated team or a possible second tier of expansion by the NHL (as the NHL has a history of doing multiple expansions in short order) in time for either the 2020-21 or 2021-22 seasons.  The other major tenant in the arena is the University of Connecticut basketball teams (men and women).  The city has stated that a new location for an arena is not an option at this point as a new minor league baseball park is being constructed nearby (ground was broke in early 2015) and that the present site would be the most feasible as relocating would leave a "big gaping hole downtown."[1]

A brief mention was made for the arena to become a temporary home for the New York Islanders as their situation with the Barclays Center became more evident that the facility was not feasible for an NHL team, but it never made it beyond the thought stage.

Officials with the  Capital Region Development Authority issued a request for proposals (RFP) in late April of 2018.  This is in the hopes of landing a buyer for the venue who would then bare the cost of funding upgrades to the facility.[2]


External Links

Preceded by
Boston Garden
Springfield Civic Center
Home of the New England / Hartford Whalers
1974 – 1978
1980 – 1997
Succeeded by
Springfield Civic Center
Greensboro Coliseum
Preceded by
Olympic Saddledome
Host of NHL All-Star Game
Succeeded by
St. Louis Arena