January 4, 2007
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
The state agency that oversees the Hartford Civic Center and the New York-based company that operates it have agreed to extend a termination clause in their contract for three months while the agency considers just which company will manage the center in the future.
On Wednesday, the Connecticut Development Authority and Madison Square Garden CT, LLC - which owns the Hartford Wolf Pack - announced that both parties have until March 31 to declare whether they want to terminate their contract.
MSG has operated the center since 1997; its current contract expires on Aug. 31.
The announcement comes as the authority considers three proposals from partnerships interested in running the center until 2013 - when the authority's lease on the city-owned property expires.
The authority decided to discuss the operation of the center last year when it became clear that the state was losing roughly $4 million a year on its operation.
The bidders include the current operator; a partnership of former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin and arena manager Global Spectrum; and a partnership of developer Lawrence R. Gottesdiener's Northland Investment Corp. and arena manager SMG.
Baldwin wants to rebuild the city's market for the American Hockey League, and he wants to do it with a minor league team called the Hartford Whalers.
Gottesdiener wants to own an AHL team and improve programming in the short term, but in the long term he wants to knock the center down, build a bigger arena, and bring back the NHL.
MSG, which has the region's AHL franchise, wants to continue managing the center, has pledged to keep the Wolf Pack in Hartford through 2013, and has offered to revise its current contract to leave more money in state hands.
"To ensure a fair and open review process of all proposals received by the CDA, we offered this modification to the existing agreement with MSG concerning current Civic Center operations," said Marie O'Brien, the authority's president.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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