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Amphitheater Proposal Music To Ears At City Council Public Hearing

October 31st, 2017 · 17 Comments · City Council, Development and Zoning, News and Events

harbor yard screen

Screen shot of video presentation.

Vendors, suppliers and regional businesses Monday night at a City Council public hearing voiced support to transform the Ballpark at Harbor Yard into a warm-weather, $15 million, 6,000-seat concert amphitheater managed by Live Nation and sports entertainment entrepreneur Howard Saffan.

University of Bridgeport Vice President George Estrada kicked off the public hearing declaring “Now we have an opportunity to bring concerts during that spring-summer season and I believe this will re-energize the Downtown and South End. It will be exciting to see life injected with out-of-towners supporting businesses into the Downtown … Pedestrians bringing life to the sidewalks and the sound of music in the air.”

Kristin Okesson, general manager for Connoisseur Media that owns regional radio stations such as STAR 99 and WPLR, said “These guys do what they say they will do,” referencing Saffan and Jim Koplik, the decades-long concert promoter of Live Nation. “Bridgeport will be a great stop for artists between New York and Boston.”

Terry O’Connor, executive director of the Bridgeport Diocese-led Cardinal Shehan Center located Downtown, stressed four points: jobs, economic impact, tickets to share with needy nonprofits and Saffan’s track record for community involvement.

A steady stream of local and regional merchants also spoke including Nino Falconieri who has carried on the Bridgeport painting business started by his immigrant father. “He’ll be good for local vendors,” referencing Saffan who had served as president of the adjacent Webster Bank Arena for many years.

Jay Piccirillo, owner of Micalizzi’s Italian Ice on Madison Avenue, said “This is like a kid waiting for Santa Claus to come.” Be it ice cream, pizza, beer, Saffan promises to utilize local vendors.

Brandon Hall, founder of Forstone Capitol, one of the city’s largest Downtown property owners including new apartments and soon-to-come German beer hall and comedy club across from McLevy Green on State Street, proclaimed “This amphitheater is a game changing project.”

Former City Councilman Bob Halstead urged cut-rate prices for city residents as was done by the former summer music festival the Gathering of the Vibes at Seaside Park.

Among the mostly positive speakers, two sobering voices stepped up Ernie Newton, looking to reclaim the City Council seat that launched his political career, and Board of Education member Maria Pereira, also the 138th Democratic Town Committee leader.

Newton emphasized the need to make sure the language in the contract between the city and developers is strong for local hires.

Pereira, a staunch proponent of funding city schools, wondered why the city will allocate $7.5 million to upgrade the venue when it shortchanges the school system.

City officials say the Saffan/Live Nation partnership called Harbor Yard Amphitheater LLC will split the renovation costs with the city. The city will finance its end from a capital development fund. City officials say the renovation split for taxpayers is a fraction of what it would cost to have renovated the 20-year-old ballpark.

Following a request for proposals Mayor Joe Ganim selected the amphitheater pitch over a renewed submission by the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team that played at Harbor Yard for 20 years. The Bluefish will play its 2018 season totally on the road in the Atlantic League in anticipation of a new home in North Carolina for the 2019 season. City officials say the ballpark needed upgrades comparable in price to what the concert venue will cost.

City officials stressed that the amphitheater proposal brings a stronger economic impact to the city in terms of jobs, payments to the city and overflow to local vendors and restaurants. The contract guarantees the city $150,000 annually in rent, but with a projected take on ticket sales estimated at roughly $450,000.

The contract goes to the full council for approval at its Nov. 6 meeting. If approved, the projected venue opening is spring 2019.

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Harvey Weintraub

    I’m all for this project,I mean,what’s the alternative,another Kennedy stadium?..My worry is Joe,keep him as far as possible away from this.There is alot of money involved and alot of opportunity for corruption on Joe’s part,once a thief,always a thief..

  • Lisa Miro

    Harvey, I’m very new to commenting on this site, but I respect all views, for that is what makes our county great. I am responding to let you know, I agree.

    I actually spoke of turning the ball park into an outdoor music venue when not in use…I have notes from years ago and even spoke to Mr. Saffan and Fred Garrity about having the 911 ride ending there…I had the contacts of Lynryd Skynyrd and they were interested, but to no avail, it was shot down. I must note, Finch was mayor at the time and I was told legalities were involved and it couldn’t be done.

    I’m sure the Feds are on top of this….Too much is going on within this great city (and beyond of course) and I’m shocked at LIUNA, the union that knew I was working full time and they did nothing. Nothing of course until I called the VP of New England Laborers, Vinny Massino. I received a phone call (still have it) from Tara Romano (Steve Snipes was also in touch and said how badly Ganim hurt LIUNA) I called her back and she apologized and said she thought the mayor would have made good on my position after July 1, 2017 and that’s why she never filed a grievance for me working full time in a LIUNA position for almost 16 months with NO BENEFITS. I do believe her and she acknowledged I had a case, as we spoke many times (phone records will show). She told me she knew I called the regional office and she was filing a grievance. Well, the rest is history. Ganim Knew this was going on…I have endless docs showing my requests.

    Within a week of this phone conversation with Tara, and various conversations with Mr. Snipes, Bucci filed on behalf of me having NO HEALTH INSURANCE (after 15.5 months), nor benefits for working FULL TIME (even though Civil Service had me documented as Part-time) All fraudulent documentation. I never signed a contract as Beach Supervisor, the document shown to me and Bucci at labor meeting. Ironically, the contract as seasonal was copied and miraculously, additional info was written in BLUE INK. HMMMMM….

    I was spoken to, vis a vis and text by Tammy Papa, Sept. 20 & 21st, 2017) to drop my lawsuit and take the job offered or I would be fired. Recordings are tough in CT, as they do not stand up in court, but…

    Without going on with my boring story, It’s my fault for believing all involved (I have full documentation of such promises of salary & benefits) for doing the job as Youth Program Manager.

    I am guilty of trusting John Ricci, the mayor, and others (all documented) that I was to start salary and benefits, as the full time employee I was employed, before my seasonal title ended October 10, 2016.

    I truly didn’t think they would do this to me, after all, it was Ganim who contacted me before he ran for mayor (I have proof) and wanted to talk “politics.”
    There’s a lot more, but that will come later…I take full responsibility for believing (or wanting to believe)their lies…I even got invited and attended the Democratic Progress Dinner with Ganim and Mario in Hartford.

    It all comes down to Ganim playing with numbers. Let people retire, bring them back hourly, budget numbers will show drastic savings, but taxes were increased. Oh yes, lets pay out for unused vacations, the highest recorded payouts of an administration (I do believe I’m right) Paper trails….

    Intelligent Bridgeport residents know that all revealed in the press as Ganim doing good, is nothing but a façade to pave a path to governor. I do want to acknowledge, he has charisma and is an eloquent speaker, but, well, without comparing any public figure (good/bad), I think I’ve conveyed my message without elaborating on the subject.

    I’m not letting my labor law violations or my retaliation suit go, but the correlation to your post, Harvey, is I agree with you and Ganim is not to be trusted in charge of any fiscal matters. I want you to know, many of those who helped him get elected have similar stories and feel the same way you do…

    Do a search on properties being bought in Bridgeport….interesting…

    Thank you, Lennie, for enabling us to vent…good night …

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    This is  a juicy  opportunity for Joe Ganim, a man with a history of pimping out municipal development for his own benefit. Lead him not into temptation, he can get there on his own.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Hi Lisa,thank you for your very interesting and enlightning response.Just curious,when you say this..”I truly didn’t think they would do this to me, after all, it was Ganim who contacted me before he ran for mayor (I have proof) and wanted to talk “politics.”
    There’s a lot more, but that will come later”…are you inferring Joe wanted to get together with you to talk “more than politics”?

  • Lisa Parziale

    Lisa, you were used and betrayed. I don’t mean this in a mean way, but you can’t even begin to imagine how pathetic and desperate they are. In a couple of years, the political tide will turn, hopefully for the better, so don’t give up. Stay as far away from John Ricci as you can, that was you’re first mistake. He’s a needy, insecure jerk, and will act as if he’s a savior to anyone naive enough to believe him. Joey G. is Joey G., too bad you didn’t know him better, birds fly and fish swim, and Joey G. will always be the same. I know him better than he knows himself, I frustrated the heck out of him for 10 years because he had to take my shit, and couldn’t hurt me in any way. Still can’t (smile.) Good luck with your challenge, don’t quit!

    • Lisa Miro

      Lee, thank you for your kind words. I’m so not sure you’d, but You am guilty and foolish for trusting all of the aforementioned. But I have proof, documented proof, texts, emails, VM, and I had Labor Relations going against me. I will and have given my trusted detectives and state police documented BS after a simple statement of ,”you better be scared starting your car.” I don’t take that Lee. I’ve got two kids and they use my car. I’m sure it was in jest, but Ive known too many people from my NY days and I take nothing lightly:

      • Lisa Miro

        Well, auto correct stinks, so some things didn’t come out as intended. But nonetheless, thank you Lisa. I was a fool, perhaps if I went with “the few” I’d have my job. I agree, now that I am involved first hand, they will be up against something that they will regret. All I wanted and pleaded for was medical insurance and benefits. Number one, medical for me and my kids…(hello, Federal Law)

  • Lisa Parziale

    Lisa ignore their threats. They’re all a bunch of gutless punks, couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. Stay the course, bullies always back off when they know you have no fear. Hell, I would have been dead a long time ago if I worried about how hard they tried to get rid of me.

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