As the weather grew colder this week, the buzz was hot about a dream many people across Connecticut have: to see the NHL return to their capital city. Fueling the excitement was a new plan presented Tuesday, to overhaul the aging XL Center and transform it into a sports and entertainment mecca.
Former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin unveiled these renderings along with hopes a major league hockey would return to the XL Center in 2017. The sketches show a drastically different arena, with stores, restaurants, a TV studio, better seating, luxury boxes and the list goes on. The plan also calls for a block of Trumbull Street to be closed to vehicular traffic.
These renderings aren’t just based on Baldwin’s dream. They are backed by a study paid for by Aetna, and conducted by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at UConn. The study found for $105 million dollars, the plan would be huge boost to the city, region and state. Why would Aetna do this? It is hard to recruit employees who might also be considering jobs in Boston, New York, or Chicago.
This Sunday on Face the State we will hear from one of the people who worked on that study, economist Fred Carstensen. During the taping Carstensen talked about the need for spending money on this, and where the money could come from. He also talks about the appeal of the Hartford economy, and when he says Hartford he refers to the city and its many suburbs. In addition, Carstensen talked about the benefits of the new bio-science research center in Farmington, and how a revitalized XL Center would be another wise investment. It was a fascinating conversation that is must see for any fan of our state, region and capital city, not to mention a fan of UConn basketball and the Hartford Whalers.
UPDATE: Here is the interview that aired Sunday on Face the State: