Big Fish–Business Community Reels In Bass Pro Founder For Annual Dinner

McMurray, Finch, Houston, Dance, Morris
Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris, far right, joined Mayor Bill Finch and legendary outdoorsmen Jimmy Houston and Bill Dance at the official announcement in July of 2012. At left is 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray.

Skeptics have been waiting for concrete proof Bass Pro Shops is happening. The concrete has started. As trucks have begun to pour concrete footings for construction of Bass Pro on the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area, the mega outdoor retailer’s founder and chief executive Johnny Morris will be in Bridgeport December 11 as the featured speaker at the annual dinner of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council at the Downtown Holiday Inn.

More than 300 tickets have been sold for the dinner and event organizers expect to pack the Holiday Inn ballroom.

Morris was in Bridgeport the summer of 2012 when hundreds of enthusiastic supporters gathered under a tent in the East Side redevelopment area to celebrate the public announcement of the nation’s largest outdoor retailer constructing a 150,000-square-foot store expected to create 150 construction jobs and 300 full- and part-time positions as a major anchor tenant on the 50-acre area of the East Side sandwiched by Downtown and Pleasure Beach in the East End.

Bass Pro rendering.
Bass Pro rendering.

Fishing guru Jimmy Houston, who’s smooched a number of bass on his television shows, reeled in the crowd that day with his folksy charm declaring “the best fishing and hunting store in America will be right here!” Some snags in the Bass Pro development process delayed the projected opening but with concrete being poured Steelpointe Harbor developer Bob Christoph says Bass Pro is on track for a fall 2015 opening.

Hey, what’s another year considering the redevelopment of the East Side was first proposed by Mayor Lenny Paoletta in 1983?



  1. I’m sure it will be a charming event filled with good cheer and serious hyperbole (read, facts with a wheelbarrow of bullshit) and I am rooting for whatever they are truly bringing along with our new friends at Starbucks and Chipotle. That said, what do Bridgeport residents and taxpayers get out of this?
    Bob Walsh, can you refresh us on the terms? When do we see benefits drop to our bottom line or our residents employed???

      1. Anna, I think Baffled is merely asking for the truth, while emphasizing he/she is “rooting for whatever” concrete successes can “truly” be achieved in Bridgeport. Is that too much for you? If so, then you must be of the “work hard and be nice” school of governance by a smile and BS?

        I hope in spite of the vacuous, third-rate leadership and a top-heavy Bridgeport-politics-as-usual administration we have in this city, the SteelPointe development leads to measurable increases in investment and consumer spending in Bridgeport. Everyone here and throughout Connecticut should be rooting for that.

        Now that the ink is dry on the deal for his multibillion-dollar corporation in Bridgeport, Mr. Morris might help out Bridgeport by speaking frankly to the local community of influencers on Dec 11 regarding the considerable dangers and costs of deception and dishonesty in business and in government. But would such a message even be heard?

  2. Bass Pro opening in Bridgeport should be condemned by Bridgeport residents, not celebrated.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, not a disgruntled employee, filed a federal lawsuit against Bass Pro for discriminatory hiring practices against Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and women. They also have direct links to the NRA.

    Placing Bass Pro anywhere in Bridgeport is a slap in the face to our community, but especially minorities. Bass Pro is scheduled to open in the neighborhoods with the largest population of minorities and it will also sell guns while located in the highest crime-ridden neighborhoods in our community. All in the name of progress in which over 90% of the jobs will be minimum wage and municipal tax revenue will not be generated for decades.

    Read this article and weep.

    Please Google “Bass Pro litigation” and you will find quite a few articles on this specific topic. One article stated the chances of Bass Pro’s employee demographics occurring on its own was one in a million.

  3. Maria, 1983 … 1983 … yet Bass Pro isn’t progress. I understand your concerns, but maybe they have learned a lesson with their prior practices??? If you had your way, what would you really like to see happen in that area?

  4. Coach T, I am not sure what the reference to 1983 is, however this lawsuit was filed in 2011 and is still pending resolution. They have not learned their lesson or changed their ways because they refuse to acknowledge they utilize discriminatory hiring practices.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving Day, Ms. Pereira, perhaps Tom McCarthy’s comment is the only ‘gift’ he can provide to us these days. It is a gift of laughter caused by absurdity.

    As the principal business association in the City, one might expect a comprehensive statement of the “municipal financial success” Steelpoint represents to the community as it finally takes form. Businessmen are used to looking at projects, the resources and investments required and the “payback” required to represent Return On Investment. Surely in their business dealings they do not entertain “fish stories” from a master outdoorsman instead of a report detailing the 30 years of investment represented by buying taxpaying properties, forgoing tax payments on them, carrying debt and interest on debt on this chunk of land supported by all the taxpayers. But the chunk is now a special tax district where revenues are first used to satisfy the obligations of the tax district, and then may come to the City, if I understand the complex deal correctly. Can we get a statement, Mayor Finch? Maybe Paul Timpanelli will provide this to his business members who may not pay taxes on their suburban residences but certainly pay taxes on business property in Bridgeport. They are responsible to their stockholders and owners. Who is responsible to the taxpayers of Bridgeport? A comprehensive statement, backwards 30 years to understand the investments made, and the assumptions, going 30 years forward as to what may happen? Time will tell.


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