The state will soon have an incredibly expensive busway from New Britain to Hartford. Many people—including The Shad—think it’s a boondoggle that will never be utilized to the extent it will be worth the money. However, that might change if there was something to actually take the bus to. Gov. Dannel Malloy has been all about economic development in his first two years in office. He’d be missing a huge opportunity if he didn’t put the full force of his office behind an attempt to bring the NHL back to Connecticut.
The issue has resurfaced because of a story in the New York Post that said Malloy has formed a group to look into the feasibility of trying to bring an NHL team back to the state. The story quoted unnamed sources. Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba tells The Shad, “It’s no secret that Governor Malloy is pursuing economic development opportunities of all shapes and sizes for the state. As such, people have reached out to him with non-specific proposals to move professional sports teams to Connecticut from time to time. But right now, they are just that – non-specific proposals.” Pretty noncommittal.
Let’s look at it this way—the efforts and expense of bringing an NHL team back to Hartford would certainly bring a better return on the dollar than any of Malloy’s “First Five” tax incentive plans (although he’d be spared the ugly nightlife incidents even with hockey players). It would make Hartford or wherever a new arena can be built vibrant, energetic and a boon to the state’s economy. It would also say, “Connecticut is big time when it comes to creating jobs.”
Full disclosure: I was then-Senate President Kevin Sullivan’s and subsequently Senate President Don Williams’ point man in dealing with Howard Baldwin whose dream to bring the NHL back to Hartford was dashed in a couple years (thanks mostly to the pathetic performance of the state’s economic development people at the time who wouldn’t even consider the possibility and who were nothing short of obstructionists). So I am personally interested in professional hockey coming back to the state and I am also interested in making Hartford and Connecticut a true, serious place among the others in the country.
Gov. Malloy should chase after this opportunity full bore and add his already developing legacy of caring about economic development and job creation in the state.