What is causing a delay in the introduction of sports betting at the XL Center? – NBC Connecticut


Michael Freimuth, Executive Director of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), joins Mike Hydeck to provide an update on plans to bring sports betting to the XL Center.

What will it look like when finished and why is the project late?

Mike Hydeck: Sports betting in Connecticut was launched almost a year ago now and in the first six months of this year the Connecticut Lottery has paid the state over $1 million through sports betting retail and online betting. In addition to being able to place your bets on the lottery app, they also have plans for multiple in-person betting locations. We are still waiting for one in Bridgeport to be announced. And the one planned for the Hartford XL Center at least seems stuck at this point. So what’s the heist at this point? I am now accompanied by Michael Freimuth. He is executive director of the Capitol Regional Development Authority. They oversee the Civic Center and many other sports venues across the state. Mr. Freimuth, welcome to Face the Facts.

Michael Freimuth: How are you, Mike?

Mike Hydeck: Great, thank you. So we have seen FanDuel and DraftKings slots open in our casinos. And there are several touring at Winners and Bobby V’s, what can we expect from the one at the XL Center?

Michael Freimuth: Well, we’re doing an addition to the back of the building on what’s called the west side of the hall on Ann Street. It was the only real place we could go to build it. And our problem has become what it has been for a lot of people, the supply chain. Glass wall systems, HVAC systems are lagging and this has been holding us back and probably until spring.

Mike Hydeck: So that was my next question, the schedule to complete. You were hoping to get ready for football so now you are looking at spring. And is it all linked to the supply chain? Or do you also have the crews you need?

Michael Freimuth: Yes, we were disappointed with some of the offer packages. We haven’t received the same kind of attention as in the past. So there is a small shortage of labor and bids. But for the most part, we got the bidders we needed. So we hang on. But the main problem we are facing is that one of some key components is linked.

Mike Hydeck: So the fact that you are building a new structure on top of the existing structure leads me neatly to the next question. We know that the XL Center is getting old, is the debate over it demolishing it? Are we renovating? How to move forward? First of all, how does this affect what you are doing, building the new betting center? And then can partnerships like this contribute to the health of the Civic Center as a whole?

Michael Freimuth: Yeah, actually, the board probably wouldn’t have come to an agreement to do the sports betting if they hadn’t given a positive net revenue stream to the XL Center. And then we planned to create additional amenities for the fans, such as additional bars and restaurants in the building. So it fits in that context. This really gave us the reasoning to go ahead with this particular component, but the bottom line is that sports betting must contribute to a positive net revenue line for the facility. And we negotiated that with the lottery, we went through the legislature to get the formula approved. And based on that, the board gave the green light to build this particular facility.

Mike Hydeck: So for people who haven’t seen the plans, give them an idea of ​​what’s going to be planned when it’s finally done. Are there betting kiosks? Will there be a big, you know, open space with a dash, what will that look like?

Michael Freimuth: Yeah, it’s gonna be a bit of everything. It’ll look like a sports book you might see in a casino. It will actually be an extension of the building, but there will be a bar. The bar will sit between the lobby and the walls, effectively allowing you to look down into the arena bowl for events, or just sit in the sports bar. It will be open seven days a week in order to be active outside of event hours. And when there are events in the building, be it basketball, hockey or other activities, concerts, the facility will also be open to ticket holders.

Mike Hydeck: So obviously, given the supply chain, there are things that are out of your control. But is there a concern that customers are getting used to going to these other places or just betting on sports apps and you think that might negatively affect people who come to your location in person at XL Center?

Michael Freimuth: Yeah, there’s always been a problem, how much is done on your phone and app, and how much is actually done in person. We kind of measured that as best we could with the lottery. So we’ve reduced a lot of that, based on what they, the lottery, are planning for retail sales, in-person sales. We view this as a net positive.

Mike Hydeck: Now that you also oversee Rentschler Field, could another venue be happening there? Do you think this will happen in the future?

Michael Freimuth: No, I don’t see any at Rentschler now. You know, maybe others in town, but I don’t see anything at Rentschler or the Convention Center.

Mike Hydeck: Michael Freimuth, Executive Director of the Capitol Regional Development Authority, thank you so much for joining us on Face the Facts.


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