While the Capital Region Development Authority is deciding among three companies bidding to run the
and Rentschler Field, Jim Schoenfeld and the executives at XL Center Madison Square Garden are considering their own options.
American Hockey League team, based in Hartford since 1997, will have its contract at the XL Center expire after this season. Rumors have percolated throughout the AHL that the New York Rangers are looking elsewhere, with some speculation that the team has already decided to leave Hartford.
Not so, says Schoenfeld.
“No, we’re still open [to
Hartford],” said Schoenfeld, general manager of the Connecticut Whale. “We have to make sure that we do our due diligence, but there have been no decisions made. We’ll wait and see what happens with the operators of the building, whether they’re new or whether they’re the ones there, and what kind of deal we can work out with them. You want a deal that’s beneficial to both parties.”
Three companies --
AEG Management CT LLC, Capital Region Sports and Entertainment Group and Global Spectrum -- have bid to run the XL Center and a decision is expected next week.
AEG’s contract to run the building expires in August, so MSG has been unable to start negotiating a new deal. The uncertainty led the Rangers to look for alternatives.
AHL president Dave Andrews addressed the Whale’s situation during the league’s All-Star break. Speaking at his state-of-the-league address, Andrews said the league is assisting the Rangers.
“It’s premature to try and suggest how that may play out,” Andrews said. “Obviously, in the interest of the league and of Hartford, ideally we will have the Rangers still there the Connecticut Whale still there as a team and a brand. We’re working on all of that.”
But, Andrews said, the Rangers have not been sitting idly while the CRDA ponders the bids.
“Any good leader of a professional sports team, if he’s not sure he’s going to be in a building the next year, is exploring other options and we’re working with [the Rangers] to see what those options might be,” Andrews said. “But hopefully they’ll be back in Hartford.”
AEG is currently running the Whale’s business operation. The Rangers own their AHL affiliate and would look for a market that make geographic sense.
Schoenfeld said the organization would prefer to stay within driving distance of New York.