Euphoric Crowd Hooked On Bass Pro Shops–Finch, Malloy Lead Cheers

McMurray, Finch, Houston, Dance, Morris
Mayor Bill Finch, second from left, joins at right legendary outdoorsmen Jimmy Houston and Bill Dance and Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris at the official announcement Sunday afternoon. At left is 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray.

More than 300 enthusiastic supporters gathered under a tent in the Steel Point redevelopment area Sunday afternoon to celebrate the official announcement of the nation’s largest outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops 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 the downtown and the Pleasure Beach in the East End.

Bass Pro artist rendering
Artist rendering of Bass Pro Shops in Bridgeport.
Malloy, Finch BPS
Governor Dannel Malloy joins Finch at announcement ceremonies.

Legendary outdoorsman Jimmy Houston, who’s smooched a number of bass on his television shows, reeled in the crowd with his folksy charm declaring that before Christmas 2013 “the best fishing and hunting store in America will be right here!” The crowd in a frenzy, Houston introduced Mayor Bill Finch who led a chant “We want Bass Pro … we want Bass Pro!” The mayor added the company “Reaches down into the most wholesome nature of this country” creating destinations that attract millions each year. They’ll be coming here “by boat, rail and bicycle” the mayor said. Finch passed the speaking baton to Governor Dannel Malloy who recognized the wildlife accoutrements under the tent, declaring “Bass Pro Shops has a sense of humor. We’re up here with two stuffed turkeys and a bunch of politicians.”

Kooris, McCarthy
City Council President Tom McCarthy and David Kooris, the city's new director of economic development.

As the crowd exploded with laughter and cheers Malloy declared “This is what success feels like! They’re building what is recognized as one of the top 10 brands in the U.S. … This is a great day for Bridgeport and the state of Connecticut. Change is possible and that’s what we celebrate today.”

Malloy regaled the crowd with the number of phone calls he received from Finch seeking the governor’s support on the project.

Testa, Blumenthal
Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa chats with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. You know it's an important event when Mario leaves his Madison Avenue restaurant or his lake house in Monroe.

The dignitaries behind the podium included U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Jim Himes, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Robert Christoph Sr. and Robert Christoph Jr., developers of Steelpointe Harbor, Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, and local legislative officials.

Stafstrom, Brannelly
Ex Democratic Town Chair John Stafstrom with City Councilwoman Sue Brannelly. Stafstrom, as the city's bond counsel, has served as a key point person drafting legal language and reaching out to contacts in state government to move the development project forward.

Several officials familiar with the negotiations involving Bass Pro Shops credit Finch’s Chief of Staff Adam Wood with serving as a key communication bridge with company officials and the Steelpointe Harbor development team led by Robert Christoph Sr. and Robert Christoph Jr.

Steel Point
Steel Point redevelopment area officially known as Steelpointe Harbor.


  1. Greatevent. I had to get out of there after Johnny Morris spoke, so I cannot comment on the fish fry.

    The pols were all good, but I have to say Malloy impresses me more and more each time I see him speak. I think he will be good for Bridgeport.

  2. *** Even though seeing is believing in a city like Bpt, I hope for Malloy’s sake the Bass Pro Shops truly comes and does well! I voted for Malloy and feel he’s off to a good start in turning the State’s budget woes around and into the black! Bpt is lucky Malloy is more about the people than about our city politics. If Malloy, Kooris and the State took over the task of economic development in this city together, we might be able to make some real growth noise, no? *** BASS/WICC 48HRS STATE BLUEFISH TOURNAMENT FOR CHARITIES ***

  3. I have to say this was an exciting event. There was no way I would miss this moment. I had the opportunity to tell Len Paoletta I believed in his Harbor Pointe project 30 years before Stamford stole the name and our project was renamed Steel Point. It was nice to see nearly everyone I expected to see and a little disappointed at a few who did not make an appearance. I give Mayor Finch a lot of credit and he certainly deserves a pat on the back. I found it sort of curious Paul Timpanelli did not speak at the podium unless I missed that. I finally met Adam Wood and congratulated him on a job well done. I think I finally did say congrats to nearly everyone involved but could not get near the Mayor or former Mayor Fabrizi. I am very excited about this project and hope the developers do not just concentrate on retail. I would be happy to see residential units going up simultaneously. Cranes every day seen by hundreds of thousands of cars every day for the next 20 years. That is the best public relations a city can get. The spread of food was great from Metric Grill on Canon Street. The desserts from Del Prete were the best you can get in Bridgeport. The only exception to the day was the story of the Mayor taking the Bass Pro guys to Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield. What??? The Merritt Canteen is Number one even over Tomlinsons. You had to go to Fairfield??? Congrats to all the individuals involved in this project and continued success. Mayor Finch–Bravo!

    1. Bill is a Big Super Duper Weenie in an artificial casing.

      Adam is now becoming the Marathon Man running around St. Mary’s. He’s no Walk-Man but he was sweating to the oldies this past week.

  4. Lennie, were there any people of color there because I didn’t see any in the pictures or read any comments from them, I mean this is Bridgeport?

    1. Ron,
      The People of Color were evicted from this peninsula. NO, there would not be any people of color seen at this event. It is not their event and mostly not an event for Bridgeporters, just outsiders making a lot of money and a love fest for politicians (also making a lot of money). Not much money in this for Bridgeporters. I like fishing as much as the next guy but I don’t like any type of big-box store or parking lots. If this group makes something of Pleasure Beach and the waterfront, I would change my mind. It has to include kids from the area, not just fat cats.

  5. Check out the comments on the rag known as the Connecticut Post. All but one were negative. And that speaks volumes about the thought that went into bringing this business in as an anchor store.

  6. Per the Huffington Post Article–the last sentence is pretty chilling

    Based on its potential tourism draw, the privately held company has also been a major recipient of government subsidies over the years. The company has received half a billion dollars in taxpayer money based on its promise as an anchor for economic revitalization in certain communities, according to a report issued last year by the Buffalo, N.Y.-based Public Accountability Initiative, but in some cases the revitalization never arrived.

    This is a destination business–and people who come to these stores do not spread their spending in the community business around the stores–and if I see the rendering correctly, the back of the store will be on the water, blocking not only the view but the possibility of water use by citizens or other business.
    As to the federal lawsuit filed against their hiring practices:
    “Bass Pro has been discriminating in its hiring since at least November 2005,” the EEOC said in a release.

    Minority job seekers, the agency said, were “routinely denied” positions as cashiers, sales associates, team leaders, supervisors and managers at Bass Pro stores. Managers at Bass Pro stores also made “overtly racially derogatory remarks” affirming the practices and noted that African American candidates “did not fit the corporate profile,” the EEOC asserts. The alleged discrimination occurred at Bass Pro stores in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana.

    I so hope I am wrong and the city officials have thought about the long-term plans for development of this property, and this is not just another project that generates a lot of hype and no substance for our city once again.


Leave a Reply