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XL Center

Hartford, CT

Home of the Hartford Wolf Pack

3.3

3.3

XL Center (map it)
1 Civic Center Plaza
Hartford, CT 06103


Hartford Wolf Pack website

XL Center website

Year Opened: 1975

Capacity: 15,635

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Not Packing Them In In Hartford

The XL Center is the home of the Hartford Wolfpack of the American Hockey League. Opened in 1975, it is formerly the home of the Hartford Whalers of the NHL. The Hartford Wolfpack have called it home since 1997. The arena is shared with UCONN athletics. UConn hockey plays their home games here, and the school's men's and women's basketball teams play part of their schedules here. The XL Center underwent renovations that were completed in 2014. The arena now has luxury areas and a large HD video board. Hockey in Hartford is a long standing tradition and the Wolfpack keep that alive.

3.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

The XL Center has everything you'd expect from a minor league stadium and more. You can find hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, pretzels and all the other standard stadium fare at reasonable prices. There are stands that feature chicken tenders, sausage sandwiches, and nachos. Where the XL Center stands out for me is their unique sandwich offerings. There is a stand that was carving fresh meats and making sandwiches. That isn't something that you see at every minor league stadium. There is also ice cream and cotton candy for those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth.

As far as beverages go, you will find a wide selection that will fit any taste. There is draft beer as well as some different offerings. You will find Blue Moon, Budweiser, Yuengling and Sam Adams among others. There is a bar area that offers mixed drinks that is fairly popular among fans.

Atmosphere    3

The Hartford Wolfpack do a fairly good job of creating a good hockey atmosphere. The announcer is energetic and does his best to get the crowd involved in the game. Since it is minor league hockey, there are the usual themes like promotions and fan cams. T-shirts are thrown into the crowd along with other promotional things that cater to younger fans.

One of the great things about the XL Center is that it offers great sight lines. The seats are oriented in a steep fashion which enables good sight lines from wherever you sit. The upper level is curtained off so you will be in the lower level. The XL Center also offers a great video board. It is a high-def board that shows great video of the action and all relevant information about the game.

Neighborhood    4

Hartford is not known as a great city to hang around in at night. The area around the XL Center though is actually a pretty good place to be. There are many restaurants, shops, and hotels within walking distance. There is a wide variety of restaurants and places to visit in the immediate vicinity.

Hartford also has some decent attractions for fans to go to before or after the game. Whether you like the theatre, history, or politics, there is something to do around the XL Center. If you come to a Wolfpack game, you may also be able to see a UCONN basketball game.

Fans    2

The Hartford Wolfpack are the minor league club of the New York Rangers. The Rangers are a very competitive team with a deep fan base. The Wolfpack are pretty close to the Rangers in terms of proximity, so it was disappointing to see the lack of fans at the game. Hockey is deeply rooted in Hartford as the city once held an NHL team. The fans that do come to the game are pretty knowledgeable and passionate. There are a lot of families with young kids at the game but there are also some hockey purists. Opposing fans will not be given a hard time from the Hartford fans.

Access    4

The XL Center is very easy to get to. It is located in downtown Harford and is right off of the highway. The traffic can get bad at times so plan ahead to avoid that. One of the best features of the XL Center is the ample parking that is located around the arena. There are several parking lots that are right near the arena.

The lobby of the XL Center is very spacious and includes the ticket office. There is a display in the lobby with moments from the XL Center and the Hartford Wolfpack. There is also an area that shows the jerseys from different high school hockey programs in Connecticut.

The downside of the XL Center is the hallways. There is not much room to maneuver and they can get very cramped during intermissions. The bathrooms are clean but also on the small side. If you want to grab some food between periods, you should leave a minute or two before the period ends to beat the rush.

Return on Investment    4

At first glance tickets prices for Hartford Wolfpack games may seem expensive. Tickets range from 20-45 dollars. However, the Wolfpack offer many discounts for seniors, children, and active and retired military. Kids 12 and under can purchase tickets for $10. Seniors and military members get discounts of $3 for select seats.

The price of concessions is reasonable at the XL Center. They offer specials like $1 hot dogs and $2 draft beers. The prices aren't going to hurt your wallet too much. Parking can be found in many areas around the arena. Most garages charge around $10 to park. Overall, the price of attending a Hartford Wolfpack game is very reasonable for the hockey and experience.

Extras    2

One star goes to the huge variety of banners in the XL Center. There are a large amount of banners from the success of the UCONN women's basketball team. There are also Hartford Wolfpack banners and UCONN men's basketball banners.

A second star goes to the night life in downtown Hartford. It has a reputation as a rough city, but there are some very interesting things to do downtown. There is also a new ballpark opening in Hartford. The Hartford Yard Goats will be playing at Dunkin Donuts Park, which is very close to the XL Center.

Final Thoughts

The XL Center has a lot of history to it. The arena can seem a bit dated, but it is a fine place to watch a game. The Wolfpack do a good job of putting a fun atmosphere and decent product on the ice. When you go to the XL Center for a Wolfpack game you will definitely enjoy the experience. The food is good and also inexpensive, and there are ample things to do before and after the game.

Sonar the SEAL?

Dude its sonar the wolf..old mascot for the hartford wolfpack?...
and the whale have the loudest fans in the ahl. every other arena ive been to in the ahl, even with larger crowds, the crowd is always DEAD. weekend games at the xl center are always noisy, and people here actually cheer when our team scores..

by doyon94 | Dec 20, 2011 10:31 AM

RE: Sonar the SEAL?

I had no idea what sonar was and I looked it up and found seal. But hearing from a fan that its a wolf makes much more sense and ill make the change. Thanks. Once I start attending Don more Ahl games i'm sure i'll be able to agree about the fans being the loudest. It was a fun experience overall.

by jmmanc | Dec 20, 2011 11:57 AM

Opposing fan point of view

Most agreed with above as a Rivaling tigers fan at the XL Center comes a better athnosphere. The better team is from Bridgeport though. I personally think the pack games are overwhelming in which you get twice the emotions out of Hartford than Bridgeport for the kids 10 and under a not good place to be as lots of swearing and drama from fans go's on but then again that isn't all but if you sit next to or around that guy your kids are already influenced, I like Bridgeports fans, team, promotions, and fun a Sound Tigers game is better for a younger families experience.

by SoundtigersSchwarz | Jan 09, 2016 11:49 PM

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Crowd Reviews

A Whale of a Good Time

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

Though Connecticut is not exactly known for its professional sports scene, the state possesses several minor league sports teams that the locals rally around. One of those teams is the Connecticut Whale, who calls the XL Center in Hartford home. For years, Hartford was home to the NHL's Hartford Whalers, but they moved in 1997 to become the Carolina Hurricanes. In a way, the new Whale is a re-creation of the old Whalers.

The XL Center, originally known as the Hartford Civic Center, was built in January 1975, and seats 15,683 fans for hockey games. The arena was renamed in December 2007. In addition to serving as the home of the Whale, the XL Center is a multipurpose venue. The arena consists of a lower bowl, upper level seating, and skyboxes that span the entire stadium's roof. There's a great view from virtually anywhere inside. The arena is run by AEG and thus hosts big-name concerts and shows quite often. Located just 20 minutes from the University of Connecticut, the arena also plays home to a portion of the UCONN men and women's basketball teams' home games.

The Whale became the Whale in November 2010, after coming into existence as the Hartford Wolf Pack in the 1997-98 season. The Whale is the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the New York Rangers. They play in the Northeast division. Many current and former New York Rangers including Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Sean Avery, Darius Kasparaitis, and Marc Savard suited up for the Wolf Pack. The team won its only championship during the 1999-2000 season.

The Wolf Pack is Back

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 2

The XL Center has been home to hockey in Hartford for nearly fourty years, and while the common thought is that the building is outdated, the sightlines for the general hockey fan are terrific, and the arena suits the AHL well. It all started back in 1975, when the New England Whalers of the WHA moved to Hartford and started playing in the new Civic Center. Only three years later, the building’s roof collapsed due to heavy snow, and a complete rebuild was needed. As the WHA was absorbed into the NHL, the renamed Hartford Whalers had to start a portion of their first NHL season in Springfield before the Civic Center renovations were complete.

After 18 seasons in Hartford, owner Peter Karmanos moved the team to Carolina after failed attempts at a new arena and a relatively low attendance in their current one (despite the hardcore group of fans that can be seen to this day still wearing apparel with the famed Whaler logo). After the move, the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL took over, and as an affiliate of the New York Rangers, they have done quite well on the ice, with frequent playoff appearances and a Calder Cup in 2000.

In 2010, original Whaler owner Howard Baldwin took over operations of the AHL team and wanted to significantly re-brand with the Whalers in mind. Making the transition at a strange time during the season, the team became the Connecticut Whale and nearly sold out their arena the night of the change. Baldwin’s other questionable business decisions and mounting debt led to his firing, and to distance themselves from him, the team went back to the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2013. While there certainly is a hockey passion in Connecticut, fans haven’t really seemed to connect with the AHL squad, and many games are played in a sparsely-attended arena. Regardless, the XL Center is still a fine facility and a very good place to watch hockey.

XL Years of Hockey

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

The XL Center, formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center, is located in downtown Hartford and serves as home to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, the University of Connecticut’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, and starting in 2014, the UConn hockey team. In preparation for the 2014-2015 season the XL Center underwent $35 million in improvements to the mechanical system, locker rooms, and concourse. A new high definition video board was installed, as well as aesthetic improvements such as a new bar area and luxury seating in the lower bowl. A portion of this funding will go towards a study to determine the facility’s long-term viability and whether it should be replaced with a new building.

The franchise that eventually became the Hartford Wolf Pack began its existence as the Providence Reds, one of the charter members of the Canadian-American Hockey League. The Reds played in Providence until the 1976 season, when they moved to Binghamton, New York, where they played as the Dusters, Whalers, and Rangers. After the Hartford Whalers moved out of Hartford to become the Carolina Hurricanes, the franchise moved into the downtown XL Center, where they have played since 1997. In their various incarnations, the Wolf Pack is the oldest continuously operating minor league hockey team in North America. Only the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins have been in existence longer.

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Local Food & Drink

The Russian Lady  (map it!)

191 Ann Uccello St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 247-LADY

http://www.therussianladyhartford.com/

The Russell Restaurant  (map it!)

103 Pratt St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 727-4014

http://www.therussellct.com/

Black-Eyed Sally’s Southern Kitchen and Bar  (map it!)

350 Asylum St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 278-7427

http://www.blackeyedsallyssouthernkitchen.com/

Trumbull Kitchen  (map it!)

150 Trumbull St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 493-7412

http://www.maxrestaurantgroup.com/trumbull/

Salute  (map it!)

100 Trumbull St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 899-1350

http://www.salutect.com/

Vaughan's Public House  (map it!)

59 Pratt St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 882-1560

http://www.irishpublichouse.com

Agave Grill  (map it!)

100 Allyn St.

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 882-1557

http://www.agavehartford.com/

M&M Bistro  (map it!)

315 Trumbull St.

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 240-7222

http://mandmbistro.com/

Local Entertainment

The Mark Twain House and Museum  (map it!)

351 Farmingham Ave

Hartford, CT 06105

(860) 247-0998

http://www.marktwainhouse.org/

Wadsworth Athenaeum  (map it!)

600 Main St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 278-2670

http://www.thewadsworth.org/

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center  (map it!)

77 Forest St

Hartford, CT 06105

(860) 522-9259

http://www.harrietbeecherstowe.org/

Connecticut Science Center  (map it!)

250 Columbus Blvd.

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 724-3623

http://www.ctsciencecenter.org/

Lodging

Hilton Hartford  (map it!)

315 Trumbull St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 728-5151

http://www.hartford.com/hilton-hartford/

Residence Inn by Marriott  (map it!)

942 Main St

Hartford, CT 06103

(860) 524-5550

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bdlri-residence-inn-hartford-downtown/

Radisson Hotel Hartford  (map it!)

50 Morgan St. S.

Hartford, CT 06120

(860) 549-2400

https://www.radisson.com/hartford-hotel-ct-06120/usahart

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