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XL Center
The Mall, The Civic Center
XL Center.svg
Former names Hartford Civic Center (1975-2007)
Location 1 Civic Center Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Coordinates 41°46′6″N 72°40′37″W / 41.76833°N 72.67694°W / 41.76833; -72.67694Coordinates: 41°46′6″N 72°40′37″W / 41.76833°N 72.67694°W / 41.76833; -72.67694
Broke ground 1972
Opened January 9, 1975
Closed 1978-1980 (roof collapse, renovations)
Owner City of Hartford[1]
Operator Northland Investment Corporation / Anschutz Entertainment Group
Capacity Concerts: 16,606
Basketball: 16,294
Hockey: 15,635
Tenants
UConn Huskies (NCAA) (1980-present)
Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) (1997-present)
New England/Hartford Whalers (WHA / NHL) (1975-78, 1980-1997)
New England Blizzard (ABL) (1996-1998)
Connecticut Coyotes (AFL) (1995-1996)
New England Sea Wolves (AFL) (1999-2000)
Boston Celtics (NBA) (part-time, 1975-1995)
Hartford Hellions (MISL) (1980–1981)

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:

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 in a 6-year naming rights agreement.[2]

Contents

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum as 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 ABL 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 square feet (2,300 m2) 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.

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History and collapse

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 caused the Civic Center roof to collapse.[3] There were no injuries. The building was heavily renovated and re-opened January 17, 1980.

Current arena

The arena remains a site for popular concerts. 2007.

In recent years, the arena has been upgraded with a new center-hung scoreboard with four Sony Jumbotrons and a state-of-the-art sound system. WrestleMania XI was held here, as were Survivor Series 1990, No Way Out 2000 and Vengeance 2004. The 1982 Big East Conference and 1988–1990 America East Conference men's basketball tournaments were also here, as well as occasional games of the UConn Huskies men's basketball team.[4] The Big East Conference women's basketball tournament is contracted to the coliseum through 2009, and it has hosted multiple NCAA women's basketball sub-regionals and regionals. The building was the host of the 1986 NHL All-Star Game. The XL Center has held many notable concerts including Metallica, The Dead, Tool, Stone Temple Pilots, Green Day, Elvis Presley, Van Halen, U2, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Elton John, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Guns N' Roses, Journey, The Rolling Stones, Mark Knopfler, Pink Floyd (two shows on its A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour in 1987 substituting for the Boston Garden which the band chose not to play after their 1977 tour), Tina Turner, Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain, Nine Inch Nails, Stevie Nicks, Phish, Green Day & Madonna. The Civic Center was the opening stop on Bruce Springsteen's 2007 Magic Tour, and it is also one of the few North American venues for the Genesis 2007 reunion tour. It has also been used politically as evidenced by Senator Barack Obama's rally that drew over 16,000 people to the arena on February 4, 2008, the day before the Connecticut Democratic Presidential Primary. It was also announced on June 3, 2009 that Miley Cyrus will perform at the XL Center as a stop on her 2009/2010 world tour. It was announced on March 11, 2010 that Pearl Jam will be performing at the XL Center on a stop of the North American leg of their Backspacer Tour on May 15, 2010 for the first time. Lady GaGa will perform at the XL Center as well, on September 16, 2010 in support of her Monster Ball Tour

Exhibition center

The Exhibition Center consists of a 68,855-square-foot (6,397 m2) exhibit hall, a 16,080-square-foot (1,494 m2) assembly hall that can divide into two meeting rooms, plus seven meeting rooms totaling 7,390 square feet (687 m2) and two lobbies totaling 6,100 square feet (570 m2). It is used for trade shows, conventions, banquets, meetings and other events.

The surrounding shopping mall was torn down in 2004 and was replaced by street-level retail shops and a 36-story residential tower that opened in 2006.

Possible new arena

With the XL Center approaching its 35th 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.[5]

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 former House Speaker James Amann have continued to investigate the feasibility of a new downtown arena[6], 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.

References

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
Madison Square Garden
Home of the New England Sea Wolves
1999 – 2000
Succeeded by
Air Canada Centre
Preceded by
Madison Square Garden
Host of WrestleMania XI
1995
Succeeded by
Arrowhead Pond
Preceded by
Olympic Saddledome
Host of NHL All-Star Game
1986
Succeeded by
St. Louis Arena

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