Sportsbook, Sports Bar at Hartford’s XL Center Losing Money

Posted on: January 30, 2024, 02:16h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2024, 12:44h.

A recently opened sportsbook and sports bar at Hartford, Conn.’s XL Center is failing to make a profit.

Hartford, Conn.’s XL Center
Hartford, Conn.’s XL Center, pictured above. Losses are seen at the center’s betting operation. (Image: XL Center)

Launched in September, the Sports Bar & Fanatics Sportsbook at the downtown arena could lose as much as $750K by July 1, according to local news reports.

Just three months after opening, the new operations had already seen a loss of more than $280K as of December, the Hartford Business Journal reported.

Officials blame the losses in part on the fact the operation is new. Many customers visit the sites only if they attend a concert or a sporting event, officials claim.

Reliance on UConn Teams

The University of Connecticut basketball and hockey teams sometimes play in the XL Center. The UConn men’s basketball team is now highly ranked and won last year’s NCAA championship.

Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, told Hearst Connecticut Media, “Especially on nights that the UConn men are playing, you can’t get into the sportsbook.”

But most times, many sports bettors in Connecticut prefer other locations in the state to wager on sporting events, such as the state’s two Tribal casinos, Hearst Media reported. FanDuel at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort and DraftKings at the Foxwoods Resort & Casino.

In addition, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation changed its athletic wager vendor to Fanatics in December, leading to a slowdown in action as the changeover was taking place, Hearst Media reported.

“Fanatics signage and branding went up just a few weeks ago, and their presence throughout Connecticut will help recognition at the XL Center, as well as other locations,” the Connecticut Lottery Commission said in a statement. “Though current revenues are lower than initially projected, sales have increased month-over-month throughout the football season and should continue to increase as awareness and the customer base develops.”

Waiting for Renovations

Officials hope planned improvements at the XL Center will help drive attendance at the venue. The XL Center is likely to undergo as much as a $100M renovation, including the addition of luxury club seating and more general admission seats. That will be done by moving the stage and improving the loading dock.

In 2015, it was reported that renovations to the XL Center would cost a much higher $250M. The prior price tag for a brand-new indoor arena in Hartford would be at least $500M. In comparison, Las Vegas’ proposed new arena could cost about $1B.

No pro sports franchises have played at the XL Center since the NHL’s Whalers left in 1997.

On a related matter, UConn has yet to build an on-campus football stadium for its struggling football team. Home games are currently played at Rentschler Field, an off-campus facility in East Hartford, Conn.