Concert Amphitheater Approved; McCarthy, Holloway Bid Farewell

McCarthy farewell
Outgoing City Council President Tom McCarthy at his last regularly scheduled meeting.

On an emotional night for City Council President Tom McCarthy, who bid farewell to his peers after 16 years on the legislative body, the past 10 as its leader, the council voted 18-2 to approve the contract between the city and a joint venture of sports entrepreneur Howard Saffan and concert promoter Live Nation to transform the Ballpark at Harbor Yard into a $15 million, warm-weather amphitheater projected to open in the spring of 2019.

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.

AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia and outgoing council member Joe Casco were the lone no votes.

A concern Vizzo-Paniccia cited is how the amphitheater will impact the adjacent Webster Bank Arena. Arena operators argue the amphitheater violates the competition clause in its city contract so the issue will likely be settled in court. Saffan served as president of the arena for many years.

Largely however, it was a night to say goodbye–for now–with a choked-up McCarthy thanking the 19 other council members for their service and comradeship after deciding not to seek reelection to the North End seat he won in 2001. He became council president in December 2007 shortly after the election of Bill Finch as mayor.

Also saying goodbye was Jim Holloway, the longest tenured council member, who was defeated in a September Democratic primary. He was elected in 1993 representing the East End.

McCarthy, Holloway
McCarthy chats with Jim Holloway as they depart the council.

In December a new City Council with many new faces will convene to select a new leader. So barring a special meeting the remainder of November, the current council has shared its last session.

Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, with whom McCarthy and Holloway have had strong relationships, also attended the council meeting.



    1. Michael, two years ago the state legislature, in a law change, determined the mil rate number on automobiles. As a results residents of Bridgeport and other municipalities with high mil rates received a cut with the state reimbursing those communities on the revenue differential. The latest state budget increased the rate but Bridgeport residents are still paying less than the 54 mils it would if the local municipality still determine the mil auto rate. So this is a state function and not a city decision.

  1. I wasn’t present at last night’s Council meeting, so I may be speaking out of line, but I’m wondering if other outgoing Council members were acknowledged, or invited to share parting words to those with whom they served. Occupying a council seat for 24 years, or holding the title of Council President, does not necessarily an effective member make. The 132nd district was represented by two outgoing members, while I didn’t support them, and admit I was critical of the job they performed, they did devote time to public service, and maybe did the best they were able to do. Another district comes to mind, 130th. Just by observation, I thought they could have risen to the level of good representatives, however, there were other factors at play that I believe hindered their potential. They also devoted time to public service. Other than a thank you from McCarthy, were any other members acknowledged for their service? What say ye Lennie????

      1. Smith and Spain will enter the City Council knowing they represent the people of the 130th district. Incidentally, Enrique Torres is still in the game, running for City Sheriff. Can’t keep a good man down. He deserves your vote.

    1. Bye Bye Anthony got my head weigh up Ganim’s ass Paoletto.

      You broke EVERY single campaign promise you made and got exactly what you deserve.

      Nessah will be done in 2019.

  2. I just spoke with an Achievement First parent who stated AF sent parents an email telling them to vote for Jessica Martinez and Chaila Robinson so they could be equally represented on the school board.

    The Bridgeport Board of Education’s role as defined by state statute is to represent the educational interests of BPS students, not state students enrolled in state managed charter schools.

    AF is a school funded by taxpayers and they are using their parent information to effect the outcome of the BPS school board election. Could you imagine if the BPS sent an email to its 30,000 parents telling them to vote.

    I have requested a copy of the email.

    Charter school employees nor supporters should serve on OUR school board nor should they serve in any elected capacity.

    This includes Aidee Nieces, Maria Zambrano, and kyle Langan who will likely be serving on the City Council.

  3. FaithActs for Education has without a doubt has put out the best election brochure around for this election in Bridgeport. They DO NOT endorse any candidate or candidates. One of FaithActs brochure has the picture in color of 56 of 65 of the primary candidates who were running for the Bridgeport Board Of Education and for the Bridgeport City Councils candidates. Now for todays election FaithActs brochure has the winners from the primary with their picture and the questions and answers from each candidate who chose to answer a list of questions. Great job FaithActs and thanks.

    1. The BOE must be an independent body, free of influence. The incoming board ought to institute rules of decorum. Can’t have one member harrassing the others with fake wanted posters and blaring rap music during board meetings…

        1. I cast a ballot today, Maria, participated in the democratic process. Amyone holding public office is going to be criticised, right out in the open. If you can’t hack it…

          1. I have thick skin. I can take it, but I am even better at dishing it out.

            That is what gets under your, Mackey’s, Day’s, etc. skin. 🙂

    2. Howard Gardner learned his lesson with FaithAct$ and told them to take a flying LEAP. He also refused to participate in FaithAct$’ candidate forum.

      He is WOKE!

  4. I’m not one to belive everything that a Bridgeport politician says about development. The amphitheater is a sound idea, looks good on paper, but where are the guarantees a percentage of the construction jobs will go to Bridgeport residents? Will businesses downtown avtually reap financial benefit or is this just “trickle down” economic theory dressed up to sell the project?

  5. Maria, how about anti-charter supporters, should they serve on school boards because they bring with them their animas and bias to the school board? I see that even though you’ve been relatively quiet on OIB you still haven’t changed that Maria mentality, my way or the highway.

    Public schools aren’t working and only a fool or someone that no longer has their children in public schools would suggest that exploring other options for educating our children is a bad idea. Black folks should be sick and tired of letting someone that doesn’t have a dog in the fight continue be the spokesperson for educating their children.

  6. Absolutely. If you support our true public schools you should serve on a local school board. If you support Charter school$, billionaires, millionaires, and the privitization of our public schools, you should serve on a charter $chool board.

    I think what people really dislike is when non-Bridgeport residents think they should interfere or weigh-in on Bridgeport matters.

    Just say in.

  7. No I think what people really dislike is a bloviating, blowhard who think she’s never wrong who wants to call the shots for children that are Black and Brown when she is neither nor does she have children in said schools.

  8. Don, Maria doesn’t give a dam about black kids getting a good education, she only cares about a failing Bridgeport public school system that’s failing black students and she wants them stuck there with no ability to those parents to have their tax dollars to support those students education, just let them fail.

  9. Donald Day and Ron Mackey as you know I am not a fan of Maria and what I am about to write has nothing to do with her or the other board members. What I am going to say will piss a lot of people off but it needs to be said. The reason for the school failures is that the parents ( not all ) just dont care about their kids education and are just to damn lazy to help their kids learn. Here is one example a Bridgeport teacher gave her class a project to do for the marking period the kids were given time during the school day to work on this project but they also needed to work on it at home. There are 26 kids in this class and only 3 reports were turned in.
    I sit and watch the kids go to school everyday. They need to be in school by 8:45am and every day there is a punch of kids walking by my house at 8:50 or later going to school. Whose fault is that

    1. Andy…you have a point. But,I am also worried about the lack of transportation in terms of picking up students and bringing then directly to the school door. Due to the underfunding of the BOE budget,bus pickup distance have been increased to one or one and a half mile. There have been claims that other communities do this but we need to make decisions based on the behavior of Bridgeport student.For better or worse,Bridgeport schools have to act as day care centers or Children centers. But,you are right, parents can make a huge difference.

      1. I’ve been writing about the culture of parental indifference. Kids are out in the street until 10:00 or 11:00 PM. (A group of 12- 13-year-olds on bicycles have been terrorizing lower Black Rock, stalking female joggers, blocking traffic, just being a multi-headed pain in the ass. Where are mom and/or dad? These punks will advance to reform school and earning their GEDs in prison rather than finishing school and earning a college degree.


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