SBD/October 16, 2013/Facilities

Hartford's XL Center In Danger Of Losing More Events To Mohegan Sun Arena

XL Center may have a stronghold on the AAC women's basketball tournament
The American Athletic Conference has a one-year deal to hold its women's basketball tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena with an option for a second year, and if the city of Hartford "fails to get its act together in a creative and unified manner," it is likely that the tourney "will never return to the XL Center," according to Jeff Jacobs of the HARTFORD COURANT. Mohegan Sun "is not in the center of the state, but it offers free parking and easy access." The arena, with a capacity of nearly 10,000, "seems perfectly configured for the tournament." Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess described the contract with the AAC as "a revenue-sharing deal arrangement." AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said it is "a financial deal that is very advantageous to us." UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma said, "We had 'moral' issues with playing in a casino. But then the high schools played here and they did as good a job as they did for the [WNBA] Sun." He added, "I would think there are enough smart people at the XL Center to say, OK, how do we improve our position to recruit any tournament?" Additionally, Jacobs noted UConn's new deal for basketball games at the XL Center "is only for this season." If the XL Center "isn't smart and creative and Bridgeport and Mohegan Sun step forward, well, you can see what direction the dominoes will fall." Jacobs: "More than that, I foresee more and more UConn basketball games leaking out of the state's largest arena to other state venues in future seasons." Meanwhile, sources said that UConn "couldn't be more frustrated with the chewed-up field conditions" at Rentschler Field to the "point of concerns over player safety and game officials commenting about it to UConn people." Both the XL Center and Rentschler Field are operated by Global Spectrum (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/15).
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