Howard Baldwin wants $105 million

XL Center Rendering (Courtesy Of Connecticut Whale)

This past Tuesday, Howard Baldwin took one step closer (theoretically) toward bringing the NHL back to Hartford when he unveiled his $105 million plan for redeveloping the Mall, er, the XL Center in Hartford.

The redevelopment plan, designed to have the arena ready to house an NHL team by 2017, includes provisions for:

  • $17.6 million for a food court, open market and concession upgrades
  • $14.3 million for seating enhancements, luxury boxes, etc.
  • $13 million for facilities upgrades, restrooms, locker room, etc.
  • $4 million for a Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood
  • $5.5 million for IMAX
  • $3 million for Geno Auriemma’s Fast Break sports restaurant
  • $1.5 million for a Fox studio
  • $1.5 million for a team store

Not bad. On the surface that price tag actually sounds fairly economical for a major sports arena. (Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center cost $321 million to build in 2008) However, let’s not lose sight of the real facts here: By 2017, the building will be 42 years old – making it the fourth oldest barn in the league behind Rexall Place (1974), Nassau Coliseum (1972) and MSG (1968). At that point it will probably be closer to seeing a wrecking ball than an NHL team. Even with a fancy facelift, you’re probably just delaying the inevitable.

As I’ve said before, I’d love to have the Whalers back. I really would. However, when you look past the sentiment and nostalgia, it really just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of economic/financial sense. Then again, maybe I’ve just taken a few too many pucks to the dome…