About a year ago Paul Doyle, a great sports writer for the Hartford Courant wrote some questions for fun about what can we expect in the future for downtown Hartford sports.
The future of the building, the old XL Center, will the Wolf Pack stay and what will happen to UConn in 2015. They were great questions and now at the end of the year we have answers or at least we have more evidence for us to ask more questions for 2016.
Doyle asked at the end of 2014 Just how well will the American Athletic Conference draw in the spring at the Xl Center and what will be the fate of the old building(XL Center)?
UConn drew nearly 250,000 Connecticut sports fans to the XL last season in total, between Mens Basketball, Womens Basketball and Mens Hockey. Not bad for a 40 year old building that appears to be held together these days with spit and glue. UConn’s biggest chance or change could come with or after the XL renovation as the building post renovations is proposed seat 18,000. Large enough to support tournament play and help UConn get into a bigger conference.
Doyle also talked about college hockey in Connecticut. He mentioned that with Yale, Quinnipiac and now UConn competing at a high level of college hockey will Connecticut move further into becoming a hockey state?
Quinnipiac continues to sell out their arena on a game by game basis, in the hockey attendance statistics their building is listed as sold to 104% capacity. Yale still is fresh in the minds of many Wolf Pack fans as former Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm is now one of the go to goalies of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and recently he has been red hot for the club.
UConn attendance has held steady but they are still pulling in record attendance for Hockey East. UConn at the XL Center has drawn three of the top six attended games this season and they also own five of the top 20. The top attended game in Hockey East this season is still UConn against Boston University on October 27 with nearly eight thousand people.
The American Hockey league has been in Hartford for 19 years, there is a lease decision coming up for the team. That is exactly why a year ago Doyle asked if the Wolf Pack stay in the city beyond 2016?
There is no definitive answer yet, and it is not an easy move as the Wolf Pack would have to convince another team to take their spot if they did leave. The real question could come down to the price, 1.4 million was the last known affiliate fee, if the price goes higher you could see some movement in the AHL. A Pack move doesn’t seem likely, unless the state convinces the Arizona Coyotes or the Carolina Hurricanes to move to Hartford. Hypothetically if that happened the Wolf Pack would have to move for an NHL club and the only place I can think of that might be available would be Utica.
Last and still a long shot Doyle asked if then recently re-elected Governor Dannel Malloy would continue to push to bring the NHL back to Hartford and will he be elected honorary president of the Hartford Whalers Booster Club?
Since February 9th 2013 on ‘Face the State’ with WFSB’s Dennis House the Governor has not said too much on the investment group or groups and he has not said much about the NHL. Every Hartford Hockey fan should be hoping that silence is golden or should we say green in this case. Im afraid 2016 is going to start with more wait and see from the looks of things but never say never especially the typical negative nancys.
As for being the honorary president of the Hartford Whalers Booster Club, looks like that is not in the works as he is loved for trying to bring major league hockey to Hartford yet I am sure membership of the club would have a few issues with some of the Governors decisions, but if the NHL does return who says the Club won’t make him permanent president after completing such a feat and righting one of Hartfords biggest wrongs he certainly has reason enough to be.
Another year is in the books and maybe Doyle will put down some questions for 2016, but in the meantime Happy New Year to each and every Hartford Hockey fan and best wishes for 2016.