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UConn president: Hartford XL Center games could be reevaluated in wake of state budget proposal

UConn Huskies forward Aubrey Griffin tries for a free throw at the foul line as the UConn Huskies overcame the Georgetown Hoyas 65-50 at the XL Center in downtown Hartford on January 15, 2023.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
UConn forward Aubrey Griffin tries for a free throw at the foul line during the Huskies' 65-50 win against the Georgetown Hoyas at the XL Center in downtown Hartford on Jan. 15, 2023.

University of Connecticut President Radenka Maric is reacting to Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget plan, which proposes cutting some of UConn’s state funding. The move would leave the university with a shortfall of $159.6 million next year and $197.1 million in 2025.

In comments to a UConn journalism class that were reported by the school's paper, The Daily Campus, Maric said that if the final version of the state budget fails to deliver the funding the school needs, it will have to consider cutting expenses. Maric said expenses on the chopping block could include the agreement under which basketball games are played at the XL Center in Hartford, adding that the governor's initial budget proposal falls short of what the school needs.

“Her overarching message was that when faced with budget challenges, UConn seeks to protect academics above all else and could be forced to make painful cuts elsewhere to close any large budget gap,” university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said via email. ”If that is the case, all non-academic expenses will be on the table, including the financial model associated with holding our games at the XL Center.”

UConn officials said the school spent approximately $4 million competing at the XL Center and Pratt & Whitney Stadium in 2021-22. That includes $40,500 in rent per basketball game and $20,500 per men’s hockey game at the XL Center. UConn said the university also gives up concession revenue when it plays at the off-campus facilities.

In response, Connecticut House Speaker Matt Ritter told reporters ahead of the session in Hartford on Thursday that the comments by the university's president sound like mistakes.

“We all, me included, make mistakes sometimes,” Ritter said. “Is UConn gonna play in Hartford? You betcha. And do we agree with the president that we gotta help them in this budget? You betcha.”

Lawmakers can make changes to the budget before it is given final approval.

Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.