CDA Meets Today

March 21, 2007 -- Scott Gray -- WTIC-AM 1080

Don't ask me why I do this.

I planned to remain silent until it was over.

I spent much of last evening at the Civic Center answering questions about it, vowing to stay mum this morning.

The last thing the Connecticut Development Authority wants is my two cents worth. Best laid plans. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, and college basketball season in Connecticut has a way of diverting us from more important matters, the CDA meets today for a final look at proposals from three groups for the management contract with the Hartford Civic Center, which the state leases from the city.

There are some bad decisions that can be made and there are good decisions that can be reached for the wrong reasons. I put nothing past the CDA based on certain history, which I refer to as the "Karmanos Factor".

Madison Square Garden currently manages the facililty and, under Marty Brooks has done a splendid job with renovations and bookings. As a result the CDA has been happy with MSG and there is considerable pressure to do the easy thing, maintain the status quo. Unfortunately the status quo does little to address the future of Hartford, which must include, at some point, a new building if the National Hockey League is to be attracted back to the market.

The MSG proposal centers on management of the existing outdated facility with nothing more than a willingness to step aside if an NHL team shows interest in coming here.

Maintaining the status quo would be counterproductive.

We need to be more pro-active in our efforts to again become the major league market we deserve to be.

The other two proposals embrace that pro-active stance, Northland Investments, headed by Larry Gottesdiener, who has more than half a billion dollars invested in downtown Hartford, in concert with AEG Management, takes a head on approach toward building a new facility and bringing an AHL team to Hartford as the first step toward a return of the NHL.

Unfortunately there is no guarantee of having an AHL team in the fall if the Wolf Pack leaves with MSG, and AEG is new to the facility management game. Gottesdiener has also been slow to fill his new developments in town.

Former Whalers Managing General Partner Howard Baldwin, in partnership with Global Spectrum, a building management firm with decades of experience and facilities nationwide, also supports the construction of a new arena at such time Hartford has demonstrated it's ability to support the NHL.

While both proposals are pro active neither guarantees an AHL team for the fall.

Baldwin, however, has long hockey ties that would make such an acquisition more likely, dependant on timing. He has said time and again, given the go ahead in early spring he could have the Hartford Whalers back on the ice as an AHL team in the fall.

CDA members question Baldwin's ability to "Do what he says he can do", which only demonstrates they weren't paying attention when he built the Whalers into the most viable franchise in the WHA and incorporated them into the NHL, or when he built an Oscar winning motion picture production company.

If I had a vote it would be to go with Baldwin.

I don't.

If anyone asked my advice that's what it would be.

They didn't.

But I just couldn't hold my tongue when we were this close to a decision. With a comment from the sports world, I'm Scott Gray.