The long-awaited sports betting lounge at Hartford’s XL Center in Connecticut has failed to live up to expectations, with analysts predicting a deficit of $750,000 by the end of the fiscal year in June.
The sports bar and betting center, which opened on September 18 and occupies 5,000 square feet of space, was part of a $15 million upgrade to the XL Center. However, the deficit of $284,100 recorded through December is expected to grow to at least $600,000 and possibly up to $750,000 by the end of the fiscal year if nothing changes.
The overall annual deficit for the XL Center was $2 million, and the Connecticut Lottery Corp. is hoping sports betting can help the arena’s economic development agency, CRDA, earn additional money and minimize the deficit. So far, CRDA has seen $18,000 earned from sports betting turned over to them.
Michael Freimuth, CRDA’s Executive Director, acknowledged that sports betting has faced challenges due to changing vendors and a lack of marketing activities but expressed hope for the future. He pointed out that the deficit of about $400,000 during the first year was expected for a newly established startup.
Despite the initial financial struggles, Freimuth remains optimistic about the future of the sports bar and lounge, especially with plans to add additional amenities and renovate the XL Center. The renovation plans include securing $100 million for upgrades, with OVG being a favorite company to help secure the budget.
Freimuth is hopeful that adjusting operating hours, offering a variety of food options, and securing funding for renovations will help increase profits. The companies are already placing bids for renovation, and there is a sense of urgency to assess the financial situation by the end of the month.
Overall, the XL Center’s struggles with the sports betting lounge have led to a significant deficit in its first year of business, but there are plans in place to turn the situation around and make the venue more profitable.