The state bond commission greenlighted $40 million for repairs to the aging XL Center in Hartford. The venue itself is to be put up for sale to a private investor by 2019, once improvements are made.
The item at Wednesday’s bond commission meeting provoked a sharp exchange between Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican Representative Christopher Davis, who said he opposes the borrowing.
“We’re making cuts to Medicare savings programs that will impact senior citizens across the state," he said. "There’s cuts to mental health services and students programs and youth services and homeless services, and then to spend $40 million on a facility that’s owned by the city of Hartford and managed by the state of Connecticut sends the wrong message to the people of Connecticut.”
But after the meeting Malloy told reporters that with other investments like new housing beginning to pay off in the capital city, it’s the wrong time to abandon the XL Center.
“We are seeing the results of those investments," he said. "So to see those investments take hold and then have an idea that we’re going to close a facility, as opposed to modernize a facility, that helps to attract younger people to the community, which many of our employers tell us is an issue here, doesn’t make any sense. It’s short sighted - it is the rough equivalent of a willingness to cut off your nose to spite your face.”
A renovation was last carried out at the XL Center in 2014. The Capital Region Development Authority, which runs the facility, has said no decision has yet been taken on when to seek a sale.