Whale extend deal with XL Center

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Michael Freimuth, Executive Director of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), today announced that a multi-year deal has been reached between Global Spectrum and Madison Square Garden (MSG) for the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Connecticut Whale to play at the XL Center in Hartford.

“I applaud Mike’s team at CRDA, Global Spectrum, and Madison Square Garden for their efforts to ensure Hartford remains home to professional hockey,” said Governor Malloy. “Hartford is a city of tremendous potential — deals like this one will bring more people downtown, help spur additional economic activity, and reinvigorate our capital city. Three more years — and maybe more — of Whale hockey is great news for Connecticut fans, this one included.”

“The ability to secure a professional hockey team for Hartford was a major consideration in selecting Global Spectrum as the management team for the XL Center,” said Michael Freimuth, Executive Director of CRDA. “The Whale is a great team and having Global at the helm means marketing opportunities that will bring more commerce and economic growth to Hartford. I thank MSG and Global for working so diligently to get this done.”

The contract calls for the team to play at the XL Center for the 2013-16 seasons, and includes a provision that could extend the term for an additional two years.

“This is great news for Hartford and the state,” said Suzanne Hopgood, Chair, CRDA Board of Directors. “The XL Center is an excellent home for Whale Hockey and we are pleased that, thanks to the hard work of the Global Spectrum and Madison Square Garden teams, it will remain that way into the future. Professional hockey plays an important role in larger regional revitalization efforts.”

“I have said many times that preserving AHL hockey in the capital city is critical to maintaining the momentum and increased vibrancy that we’ve generated over the last two years,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. “The overall economic impact of professional hockey on the city and the region is significant and cannot be undervalued and I’m thrilled that MSG has committed to remain in Hartford for at least the next 3 years. I thank Global Spectrum, MSG, leadership at CRDA, city staff, and dozens of others who have been diligently engaged in this meaningful process.”

The agreement was an early critical milestone as contract negotiations for management of both the XL Center and Rentschler Field progress between CRDA and Global Spectrum.

“The Whale appreciates the local community and its fans, and has valued the past 16 seasons in Hartford,” said Jim Schoenfeld, General Manager, Connecticut Whale and Assistant General Manager, Player Personnel, Assistant Coach, New York Rangers. “Many Rangers players over the years were developed in Hartford and all enjoyed their time in the area. The experience that our players gain while with the Whale is invaluable, and we look forward to having the Whale call the XL Center home for the next three seasons.”

“With a rich history of the American Hockey League here in Hartford and with our company’s association with both the AHL and the National Hockey League, we are excited for the residents of Hartford that, in conjunction with MSG and the New York Rangers, the AHL will continue playing here in XL Center,” said Peter Luukko President of Comcast-Spectacor and Chairman of Global Spectrum. “We look forward to helping the team in getting to the next level and expanding their community presence throughout Hartford and the State of Connecticut.”

The final contract with the AHL will be subject to approval by CRDA’s Board of Directors at their March 21 meeting.