‘Dream’ For ‘Iconic’ Amphitheater Breaks Ground

amphitheater groundbreaking
Mayor Joe Ganim is joined by other city officials and developers for groundbreaking.

Mayor Joe Ganim, Live Nation concert promoter Jim Koplik and developer Howard Saffan broke ground Thursday on a $15 million warm-weather amphitheater whose boutique tensile roof more than 100 feet high will change the face of the Downtown/South End just off I-95. The venue, replacing the ballpark at Harbor Yard, will seat roughly 5,500 and is expected to open next summer.

amphitheater rendering
Rendering of amphitheater.

“This is a dream of mine,” Koplik, president of Live Nation in Connecticut and New York, told the gathering at the groundbreaking ceremony. Koplik and Saffan, former president of the Webster Bank Arena, said they have resolved any outstanding issues with the current arena operators that feared the amphitheater would pose competition. Koplik emphasized that the 10,000-seat arena is underserved and he on behalf of Live Nation will book more concerts at the venue. Many indoor venues promote few concerts in the summer due in part to cost factors, such as air conditioning.

The first phase of the project–design, structural engineering, final drawings and permitting–is complete. Phase two underway includes site work and footings. The “iconic” tensile roof, according to Saffan, is the final piece. Saffan announced all but a couple of the 22 suites for the venue have been filled. They anticipate more than 250 construction jobs.

Koplik and Saffan also introduced the construction team, Mingolello & Associates Architects, FTL Design Engineering Studio, Szeker Engineering, Jaffe Holden Acoustics, Atlantic Consulting and Engineering and lighting company Bandit Lites.

Who’ll be the Harbor Yard Amphitheater opening performer? Mayor Joe Ganim is pushing for Bridgeport native John Mayer. The groundbreaking comes as Ganim prepares for his first head-to-head forum with Ned Lamont in New Haven Thursday night. The two will face off in an August 14 primary for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Following a request for proposals Ganim selected the amphitheater pitch over a renewed submission by the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team that played at Harbor Yard for 20 years. 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 facility in addition to suites will include three VIP lounges, outdoor barbecue area, hosting 50-75 annual events including concerts, festivals, community events and family shows. It will operate April-October.

The city will split $15 million in improvements with the developer at the city-owned venue financed from the capital improvement fund. See contract here that was approved by the City Council.

Ganim Koplik
Concert promoter Jim Koplik of Live Nation, Mayor Joe Ganim and developer Howard Saffan chat prior to groundbreaking.
amphitheater media
Big media turnout for event.
amphitheater signage
coming soon.


  1. WOW!!!!
    Who’d have thought.
    Its happening a amazing speed.
    And, what a coincidence, it has a ground breaking BEFORE the gubernatorial primary in August.
    Do you think that they will have about 4 more ground breaking ceremonies before the middle of August/ (wink, wink)

  2. Good news for Bpt!.. I think.. Live Nation is a reputable organization, they won’t let Joe shake them down for a payout. Let’s just hope Joe lets these people do their thing.

  3. Not to cast a pall over the groundbreaking of the Amphitheater, but doesn’t that groundbreaking scene, above, look a bit like a gravesite at the end of a funeral service where the mourners say their final good-byes and file away? (Might have arranged the “shovelers” a little differently around a more “construction-site-looking” scene… Just curious as to the identity of the photographer and the people who arranged for the gravesite/dirt-pile ground-breaking scene… Is this a companion picture to Ned’s new ad? (Does Ned have a “mole” digging around the Ganim Campaign?…)

    (Well; at the least the candidate campaign ads and foibles will take our minds off of the state economy for at least the election season…)

  4. Man if they get the theater done as well BRIDGEPORT I REPEAT BRIDGEPORT will become a major DESTINATION wait my bad and the CASINO DESTINATION SPOT IN THE NORTHEAST!!!

  5. Like you said LIVE NATION is reputable! They seem completely committed to make this happen. I believe weather its next spring, summer or fall it is going to happen.

  6. *** Lets not put the cart before the horse, reputable don’t add up to long term success! Webster bank arena has potential for more, bigger & better things yet its just staying afloat. Same with the other Bpt. entertainment venues also just staying afloat. Even Brass Pro is not doing well enough to consider staying after their tax-exempt lease is up unless things get better. Jobs, lower taxes which would keep rents down & property prices, along with better housing choices in general may help things turn around. But out of town people are not coming to Bpt. if it looks like an Urban dump with limited jobs for its folk & street crime in general. *** Dreams of a 100 yrs. ***

    1. Mojo,when I said Live Nation was reputable,I meant they won’t play Joe’s game of pay to play.As far as the success of this project,who knows.

    2. Dream on, Mr. Mojo. Little Joe Ganim will not do one fucking thing to create jobs, lower taxes or lower rents unless there is a way to make a buck or two.

  7. ‘Lunch bucket’ Joe Ganim would never be involved in a “pay-to-play’ scheme. Although he was convicted of felony crimes that included his pay-to-play arrangement, he has never admitted guilt for those crimes. Therefore, in his mind, he should not be judged by his past crimes because he never admitted he did them.

    Ned will be kind to his fellow democrat. In the unlikely scenario of ‘lunch bucket Joe’ being the democrat candidate, his republican opponent will remove the gloves.


Leave a Reply