Hartford Mayor Perez Meets with NHL Commissioner
Despite the downturn in the economy and deficits in city and state governments, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez is still interested in building a new downtown arena to court a professional hockey or basketball franchise.
Over the last few years, the city and the private sector have batted around the idea of bringing back hockey to the Capital city.
The Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh, North Carolina more than ten years ago and became the Carolina Hurricanes. They were Stanley Cup Champs in 2006.
With the state lease on the Civic Center expiring in 2013, Mayor Perez believes full city control of the site will enable it to move forward with an idea to build a modern, multi-use arena. Perez is working with MetroHartford Alliance to gather corporate support behind the idea and they took their message to National Hockey League Commissioner, Gary Bettman Wednesday morning.
Perez wouldn't provide specifics on Bettman's thoughts of bringing back hockey to Hartford but the Mayor says talks were positive.
"You have to have an owner, a market, and great facility. All of those things have to come together in order to make it viable for them to even consider it."
Perez acknowledged building a new arena is a tough sell these days but he says Hartford must come up with a plan now to make it happen.
"It's going to take a lot more work to organize given our economic times but in three to five years we gotta decide what to do with the civic center as a community and my hope is to convince the state that we need a National Hockey league or NBA franchise here and pull together as a community in order to make our pitch when the time comes."
The city paid a sports consulting firm to study the idea. A preliminary report stated the present site of the Civic Center is the most viable location for a new arena.