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January 7, 2022

Plans to open XL Center sportsbook move forward; could debut in Sept.

Contributed A new rendering of the sportsbook planned at the XL Center. It would be located off Ann Uccello Street.

Plans are moving forward to open a new sports betting facility in downtown Hartford’s XL Center, with hopes it could debut by the start of next football season.

The Capital Region Development Authority's venue committee met Friday afternoon and said it’s negotiating an agreement with the Connecticut Lottery Corp. to open the facility. 

The Lottery was appointed by the state legislature to operate online and retail sports betting sites in Connecticut and it partnered with Chicago-based Rush Street Interactive to launch operations in several locations across the state. 

Spectra Venue Management, the current operator of the XL Center, would run the sportsbook’s restaurant and bar. 

The facility would be located along Ann Uccello Street and work off XL Center's entrance at Church and Ann Uccello streets, connecting to the arena bowl and allowing for expansion of the concourse on the west side of the building, according to Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority.

It would have access points from the concourse and be directly opposite of the fan bar. There will also be an outdoor patio area, Freimuth said.

The facility would require a $4 million investment and have sports wagering kiosks and counters and a sea of TVs and boards displaying live sporting events and betting odds.

SCI Architects was hired as the design firm. CRDA’s venue committee was briefed on the project’s scope Friday but didn’t vote on it.

The bar and restaurant planned at the XL Center sportsbook would be operated by Spectra Venue Management.

The hope is that the facility will be built out and ready to debut in September, but that will hinge on negotiations with the Lottery. To be financially viable -- either break even or profitable -- the sportsbook needs two revenue streams: food and beverage sales and partial proceeds from the gaming activity, Freimuth said. 

Figuring out how to make the numbers work is a key part of the negotiations with the CT Lottery, he said. 

The venue would operate seven days a week, even when events aren’t taking place at the XL Center, Freimuth said. 

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