January 31, 2007
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
The debate over returning hockey to Hartford has moved to the legislature.
House Speaker James Amann put "the feasibility of constructing a new arena in the city of Hartford" before the legislature's commerce committee Tuesday, with admittedly vague language intended to serve as a placeholder while the city and a state agency figure out the best next steps.
Meanwhile, Amann said he also is seeking and getting support from some Hartford legislators.
"A couple have reservations, which is OK," said Amann, D-Milford. This will allow us to go forward ... and have a public hearing on it."
Although Amann initially came out aggressively in favor of looking for a way to fund a new arena this session, he is now a bit more tempered.
"Realistically, it depends on the public hearing," he said. "I think you have an opportunity to at least go forward with a feasibility study. If I can get two or three hundred Whalers fans to come up, I think I'll have a better chance."
Two processes concerning the arena are already underway.
First, the state's quasi-public Connecticut Development Authority is going through its second round of bidding for proposals on handling the Hartford Civic Center in the short and long terms. The state has a lease on the building from the city until 2013, and loses roughly $4 million a year. Friday is the deadline for new bids.
The city also is undertaking a review of its own, paying a consultant to figure out where best to build a new arena.
Some Hartford legislators are already on board. Rep. Douglas McCrory said he likes the idea of a feasibility study, if not hockey and a new arena; Rep. Kelvin Roldan said that if a new arena makes sense, he would support it.
Rep. Art Feltman, who is running against Mayor Eddie A. Perez this fall, said he wanted to reserve comment until Amann has a chance to explain the bill to the entire delegation.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at