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UConn won’t play games at XL Center this season

The Huskies are moving all their basketball and hockey games on-campus this year due to the pandemic.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

With the pandemic likely forcing UConn to play without fans or in front of limited crowds this upcoming season, the school will opt to not use the XL Center for any men’s basketball, women’s basketball or men’s hockey home games until next fall at the earliest, according to the Hartford Courant.

Economically, it doesn’t make sense for either side to hold games at the arena downtown without unrestricted capacities. UConn pays rent for the building which it hopes to offset with ticket sales while the CRDA, the quasi-public agency that runs the XL Center, needs sizable crowds to make operating the arena financially viable.

However, it’s unlikely all games will keep on-campus beyond this season. UConn has a year-to-year agreement with the XL Center to play there, which will be pushed back one year to begin in fall 2021. Though it’s always possible the Huskies could reconsider after this season, it appears very unlikely.

“Our teams love competing in downtown Hartford,” UConn athletic director David Benedict told the Courant. “But the conditions brought about by COVID-19 have made that impractical...We look forward to playing at the XL Center during the 2021-22 season.”

In a normal year, each of the Huskies’ basketball teams play nine games at the XL Center while the men’s hockey team holds all its home games there. Now, Gampel Pavilion will host each basketball team’s entire slate while Freitas Ice Forum will serve as the men’s hockey team’s home ice for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign — UConn’s last season before moving to Hockey East.

The college basketball season is set to begin on Nov. 25 with UConn women’s basketball’s first game likely tipping off on Nov. 28 against Quinnipiac in the Hall of Fame Challenge at Mohegan Sun Arena. A start date for the Hockey East season has not yet been announced after the Hockey Commissioners Association delayed the start of the year.