Governor Malloy attends Business for Downtown Hartford BBQ

Govenor MalloyO’Connell, Attmore and Morris, LLC acts as sponsor and moderator of BFDH event featuring Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as a guest over BBQ; Malloy admits to having an “urban soft spot.”

The ex-Stamford mayor who has lived during his two terms as the state’s chief executive officer in the official state residence in Hartford, cited the city as one of the leading recipients of state revenue-sharing during his tenure.

“We’re sending more money to Hartford,” Malloy told a barbecue-lunch gathering last week of Business for Downtown Hartford at Black Eyed Sally’s restaurant. “We’ve increased that every year that I’ve been governor. … It may not be enough, but it’s more.”

Asked about Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s ongoing dialogue with surrounding towns about a regional solution to the city’s fiscal woes, Malloy acknowledged “regionalism” remains a tough sell to its suburban and rural neighbors.

But Malloy noted that the lack of regionalism was a direct outgrowth of resistance decades ago by Hartford and New Haven to sharing their wealth with their suburban neighbors that ultimately led to dismantling of the state’s county-governance structure. State lawmakers voted to abolish Connecticut’s county government in 1959.

“Lesson No. 1: Be careful what you wish for because things do change,” the governor said.

Prodded about the elimination of the state’s tourism districts, one of which was charged with promoting Hartford as a tourism destination, Malloy said Hartford remains the centerpiece of the state’s tourism-promotion efforts.

“We’re promoting the hell out of this region,” he said, noting that city landmarks and attractions are included in the state’s consolidated tourism promotions. “A dollar promoting Connecticut is a better dollar spent than promoting regional” attractions.

Redevelopment of one of Hartford’s biggest draws, the downtown XL Center, can aid mightily, Malloy said, in making the Capital City a destination for in- and out-of-state visitors. The $250 million proposal to remake the four-decade-old arena wouldn’t only benefit UConn’s ice-hockey and men’s and women’s basketball teams, which play home games there, he said.

XL’s upgrade, too, Malloy said in response to a query, would make it palatable for the city and state to pursue one of several NHL hockey teams in the Midwest and West that have indicated a desire to eventually relocate.

— Gregory Seay

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