Bluefish Baseball Benched For Music Amphitheater, Koplik: Great Artists For Bridgeport

ballpark arena
An amphitheater will replace the ballpark. Aerial courtesy Morgan Kaolian.

The Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team, after a 20-year run, has been benched for a music amphitheater whose promoters expect to produce 25 concerts in a six-month season opening in the spring of 2019 following a $15 million renovation of the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. Mayor Joe Ganim announced on Monday that major concert promoter Live Nation and SportsCenter of Connecticut led by Howard Saffan, have partnered for music performances “for this next step in revitalizing our city.” The city, which owns the ballpark, issued a request for proposals several months ago. Bluefish ownership was one of three entities that responded.

Saffan announced Live Nation and his company will pay for the renovations transforming the 5,300-seat venue into a warm-weather amphitheater.

“Bridgeport is excited and ready for this next step in revitalizing our city with positive development and providing music entertainment by bringing in a partner and company like Live Nation,” said Ganim in a statement. “We’ve enjoyed twenty years of successful entertainment with Bluefish Baseball and thank all that the Bluefish and owner Frank Boulton have done for our community. This next chapter of Bridgeport’s future is bright with the benefits and experience of a world known entertainment company like Live Nation, and the historic success of Saffan as a venue operator, to bring in concerts and shows that will certainly put Bridgeport in the forefront as a destination place for family and friends.”

“This is a great boutique amphitheater for Bridgeport. We are looking forward to bringing great artists to Bridgeport,” said concert promoter Jim Koplik, a purveyor of musical entertainment across Connecticut for decades.

“It is an honor to be awarded the RFP,” said Saffan in a statement. “Harbor Yard Amphitheater will be a “game changer” for the City of Bridgeport. The thought of hosting 25 concerts per summer is incredibly exciting for both the local business community as well as the concert goers from near and far. To have a partner like Live Nation insures the success of our state of the venue.”

Live Nation is a mega concert promoter including multiple venues in Connecticut. Why would the city select a concert promoter next to the arena that can hold upwards of 10,000 for concerts? The arena books very few concerts per year. It relies on its partnership with Sound Tigers hockey as the anchor tenant including affiliation with Fairfield University basketball. Saffan was president of the Sound Tigers from 2005-2015. The amphitheater proposal is seasonal so it allows for winter concerts in the arena.

What does this mean financially for the city? Details have not been released. More information is expected at a news conference on Thursday. And why couldn’t concert promoters strike a deal with the Bluefish to fit both? An amphitheater-like roof is part of the renovation equation to accommodate weather and ambiance. Not a fit for baseball.

Bluefish baseball was an instant hit during its opening season in 1998. It was started by a business coalition that included Jack McGregor, Mary-Jane Foster and Mickey Herbert, the current president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. In its first three seasons the independent league team often sold out weekend games with a capacity of more than 5,000, a hot ticket during a roaring economy. Attendance faltered in the ensuing years and it’s been hard for a variety of ownerships to match the magic of the initial years.

The land hosting the Bluefish had been owned by Donald Trump who deeded the property to the city in an exchange for forgiving back taxes. Trump purchased the parcel as a potential site for a casino.

Statement from Bluefish ownership:

“We are proud of the 20-year run the Bridgeport Bluefish have had,” said Bluefish principal owner Frank Boulton. “While we are disappointed the City decided to turn the ballpark into a 29-date concert venue, we wish them the best of luck, and we hope that all Bluefish fans will come out to support their first-place team as they drive towards a championship.”

The Bluefish have welcome over three million fans to The Ballpark at Harbor Yard and provided the Southern Connecticut region and City of Bridgeport an affordable family entertainment option, while employing hundreds of the City’s residents during their time in the “Park City.” The team has hosted concerts, charity events, car shows, professional lacrosse, celebrity sporting events, University of Bridgeport baseball, Sacred Heart University baseball, the FCIAC high school baseball championships, professional soccer and more, in addition to hosting 70 regular season Bluefish games each season. In all, the Bluefish have hosted over 2,000 events in the 20-season history at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard.

The Bluefish have 20 remaining home dates in the ballpark, with upcoming promotions highlighted by Thurman Munson Bobbleheads on August 9, the Human Cannonball Show on August 11 and the final Fireworks shows in Bluefish history on Saturday, August 12 and Saturday, September 16. Tickets for the final Bluefish games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard are available by calling 203-210-BLUE, by logging on to or by visiting The Ballpark at Harbor Yard Box Office.



  1. I’m a huge baseball fan,but I totally agree with this move. The city must move on.the bluefish was great for a while but has been dying a slow death. This will be a new spark needed in continuation of downtown’s rebirth.

  2. “An unidentified selection committee had decided to go with Saffan and Live Nation.”

    Again with the secret committee deciding things..Why is this?,the same thing with the theater deal,it was all a secret.Shouldn’t the council who are elected to represent the taxpayers,been involved in the direction of that stadium??
    I’m not saying I’m against this deal,but would like to know why everything is so hush hush.The optics of secret deals,makes people think Joe is up to something,AGAIN..

      1. Yes,I assume they will be involved in the new lease agreement,my question is why they weren’t involved in the choosing of Live Nation.I bet most of them found out today,along with the rest of us..

        1. Harvey, it’s not the role of the legislative branch to choose. It’s their role to approve. Now, agreed, it would be prudent for the executive branch to give a heads up to council members as a courtesy. I dare say you’re correct, most found out reading about it.

  3. LENNIE l agree with you to a degree. The council should not be judge and juror. But that is not to say:
    1) The selection committee should be made public BEFORE the process is done.
    2) There should be 1 or 2 members of the council (oh let’s see maybe the two who represent the district) on the selection committee and
    3) The respondents and their scores need to be made public. Don’t give me any BS how there parts of their response might be proprietary. Make it known before hand and let them bid if they want to.

    1. They’re singing his praises around campfires everywhere.

      Old Bob Walsh, made the Mayor’s cry!
      Old Bob Walsh , looked them in the eyes!
      He called them out on issues.
      They couldn’t justified.
      Old Bob Walsh made the Mayor’s cry.

      Now Mayor Fabrizi would get quite queasy.
      When Councilman Walsh had a Question or two!
      Fabrizi would look to Hamilton Burger to pull out his chestnut
      or two.
      Burger try to take the heat off of Mayor Fabs by pulling his
      pants down and handing him a fan!

      ( And the Campfire Girls would sing)…….

      Old Bob Walsh, made the Mayor’s cry!
      Old Bob Walsh , looked them in the eyes!
      He called them out on issues.
      They couldn’t justified.
      Old Bob Walsh made the Mayor’s cry.

      Now Mayor Finch develop a twitch,
      Followed by a red rash, then an itch.
      The day he called Old Bob a “buffoon.”
      very time old Bob would raise to speak.
      You would find Mayor Finch vomiting in
      the mans room sink.

      ( And the Campfire Girls would sing)…….

      Old Bob Walsh, made the Mayor’s cry!
      Old Bob Walsh , looked them in the eyes!
      He called them out on issues.
      They couldn’t justified.
      Old Bob Walsh made the Mayor’s cry.

      Seventeen years of cleaning their clocks.
      Old Councilman Bob Walsh had them holding their kocks!
      So for new council people who want a lesson or two,
      check with Old Bob before you get screwed!

      ( And the Campfire Girls would sing)…….

      Old Bob Walsh, made the Mayor’s cry!
      Old Bob Walsh , looked them in the eyes!
      He called them out on issues.
      couldn’t justified.
      Old Bob Walsh made the Mayor’s cry.

  4. let me make sure that I understand this. We are going to adapt the ballpark for use as a concert venue, which will then complete with… Wait for it… The arena next-door. Give me a break.

    1. Phil, don’t forget that during the time that this new “facility” will be usable is exactly the same time when the Webster bank Arena is WIDE OPEN because the Sound Tigers are not playing and nor is Fairfield University basketball.

      With all of the open , undeveloped land in Bridgeport, couldn’t we find another spot along 95 to build this? This is SOOOOOOOOO stupid.

  5. Well something had to be done with that stadium,Bpt never really supported the team, granted it wasn’t the best team or league to follow.Other than special promotions( roger Clemens, Pete rose night),the attendance was a few hundred most nights.
    The stadium needs a total renovation,it has been mentioned before,when Joe had it built, it was at the height of his “pay me to to build here” reign.The stadium wasn’t well thought out from the beginning, it was basically thrown up, and everyone involved took their cuts and ran.
    Now here comes a first class company like Live Nation who is willing to redo the place in hopes of making it viable again,Let’s hope this time Joe doesn’t get “involved” again.

    1. Harvey, when you say you have a company that’s willing to redo the place are you implying that Live Nation is going to spent that 15 million to upgrade the stadium? I didn’t read that in the article as to who was going to pay.

  6. Ganim’s running for Governor for sure. Can’t brag about the success of the Bluefish anymore so he will have a dream that he can articulate it it will remain a dream. He can talk about th great bands that Live Nation can book without having to show rap acts and second rate shows. Only in Bridgeport.
    Oh a. It the way it will be the most one side contract the city has seen since, ah, um, the. Interact to renovate the theatres.

  7. I’d suggest that some of you naysayers go to the other Bridgeport based blog called, Bridgeport In The No!

    Live Nation will bring in smaller venues coupled with producing other events. Additionally, I think that the city should do some horse trading with Live Nation demanding several larger concert venues at the arena as part of the deal.

  8. Same day this announcement is is the CT Post there appears a story about Chicago officials say 29 people were arrested and 234 were taken to hospitals during this year’s Lollapalooza music festival.
    Such a deal! Really, such a deal!!

  9. Pete Spain; paging Pete Spain.
    Now can you take a look at this deal.
    Something smells very fishy here.
    Sound Tigers want out.
    So we will drive competition against the arena and this will help us how?
    Instead of a partially used ^,000 seat ballpark we will have a fully unused 10,000 seat arena.
    Brilliant I tell you. Strictly brilliant!!

  10. The two major rolls of the city council are oversight of the budget and ordinances.
    As I have commented before, there is an ordinance relating to purchasing guidelines.
    It’s not rocket science. The city council’s role is compliance to the ordinance.
    Is this ‘selection committee’ a component of a ‘Quality Based Selection Process (QBS) as prescribed by the ordinance?
    Let’s see if the city council’s review includes any reference to the ordinance.
    All in favor? …….. everyone knows the rest.

  11. I agree with Harvey, its better than what it’s being utilized now. I visualize plays and musical artists in the same vein as Oakdale which be would be a hit. Will out of towers come in and support the artists as the art, hell YES. Will they come into the community and spend their suburban dollars at Bridgeport establishments, hell NO. Over the years when they’ve come to events at both the ballpark or at the arena and they haven’t dropped an enormous amount of money with the businesses and they won’t for this new venue.
    Having said that, it’s better than a ballpark and you have to give Mayor Ganim his props on this deal because, It’s Better Than a Ballpark.

  12. Koplik and Live Nation are experienced professionals with good reputations. But they but not enough to save this illogical proposal, which doesn’t pass the smell test. The city needs to fix the stadium, negotiate an agreement with the Bluefish and focus on development projects which have at least a chance of success.

Leave a Reply