November 29, 2017

Bond Commission OKs $40M for XL Center

A look inside the XL Center.

The state Bond Commission on Wednesday morning approved $40 million in funding for improvements to the aging XL Center in Hartford, which is headed toward the sales block.

The funding was included in the bipartisan state budget that passed in October, but it didn't make it through the bond commission unanimously.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who chairs the commission, and Rep. Christopher Davis (R-Ellington), sparred for several minutes about the borrowing, which Davis said comes amid cuts to Medicare, mental health and other programs and when the state is already staring down a potential deficit in the budget that passed in October.

Malloy noted that Davis had voted for that budget, which included the $40 million for the XL Center.

"So in other words, you were for it before you were against it," Malloy said.

Malloy also said it shouldn't be a surprise to Davis that the new budget might already be in deficit because he had warned legislators it could happen.

Davis shot back: "I would say that it was quite interesting and positive that both parties could pass a budget without your direct input," he said. "Some argue that, perhaps, is why it was able to be accomplished."

The state budget instructs the Capital Region Development Authority to solicit bids for the XL Center, which is owned by the city of Hartford.

Mayor Luke Bronin said recently that he is skeptical how much interest the venue will draw.

The $40 million can be used for renovations and capital improvements, including the acquisition of nearby real estate. CRDA has been in conversations to acquire the Hartford 21 retail complex that surrounds the arena, where the atrium, retail space and some parking is located.

That retail space is owned by Northland Investment Corp.

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