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Narrow Window For Outgoing City Council To Approve Amphitheater Plan

October 6th, 2017 · 25 Comments · City Council, Development and Zoning, News and Events

If the current City Council is to approve the Ganim administration’s proposal to convert the Ballpark at Harbor Yard into a concert amphitheater backed by a partnership of Live Nation and Howard Saffan who operates SportsCenter of Connecticut, it will have one remaining meeting in November, unless a special meeting called. A new council with new faces and a new legislative leader will be seated in December.

CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart has more:

The push is on by Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration to finalize a deal to turn the baseball stadium into a concert amphitheater before a new City Council is elected and seated this fall.

Councilwoman Jeanette Herron on Thursday said she anticipates the contracts committee that she co-chairs will take up developer Howard Saffan’s amphitheater proposal Oct. 18. The full council would then have one meeting in November–right before election day–to act before the new legislative body is sworn in in December.

Meanwhile council candidates who have pledged to ask tougher questions of the mayor want the amphitheater temporarily tabled.

Full story here.

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25 Comments so far ↓

  • Stringfellow

    Ok the Bluefish contract was not renewed they have left the city. A tag sale was done on what could be sold and NOW they need the city council to vote to approve the amphitheater!!! A classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

  • Bob Walsh

    Don’t forget. The city was supposed to build an amphitheater at the new Harding High and no can figure how that got dropped from the plans. Duh, Ganim told th it was out. No competition.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Harding doesn’t need an Amphitheater to lay waste. The need a state of the art learning facility. Whoever thought Harding needed an Amphitheater must think that Boston Ave is going to be a draw for a concert? That kind of ignorance is wasteful to say the least. I am surprised Bob Walsh would even support that!

      • John Marshall Lee

        So, Steve, you are accusing members of the public, before the school is even opened, of laying waste to one or more parts of the school??
        Did you bother to review the input from the community, school and local, that was provided to designers to come up with imaginative ways for the school to function for the young adults during the 180 days they are in school each year and for the rest of the community, taxpayers and others to benefit from the community investment in brick, mortar, steel, wiring and other design elements? Perhaps where indoor seating for 600, and outdoor seating on the grass for 400 or so, came into being? Is that to be competitive with the offering of a Fortune 500 company, Live Nation, as Ganim2 shared with a young audience in Stratford today? Why is it you tend to declare your own “ignorance” when you post messages like this that you think help Ganim2 in some weird way. By the way at the Bunnell HS event today, Mayor Ganim had opportunities to raise his hand indicating a willingness to provide an answer to “student drafted” questions. He ignored questions on what he would do with the state of fiscal distress in Hartford as well as another dealing with education broadly. Why go to an event with questions from youth and give the other four candidates the mike and not use the minutes allocated for you? Ten minutes to hit softballs? Perhaps you are not ready to play ball as you turn Bluefish haven into a music venue? And how do we secure revenue from our new tenants? Have you ever directed the news that the past Finance Director ACCRUED one or two years of rent for the stadium at some point, amounting to more than $500,000 and let you find it was in error. How do you UNACCRUE revenue? You enter negative numbers in a revenue line item in the monthly financial report for a month or two and then it disappears, especially if no one on Budget and Appropriation sees it and asks a question. Look at Miscellaneous Pilot in May and June 2017, but it disappears from Actual revenue line items in August. What else is the public not seeing? Time will tell.

        • Steven Auerbach

          JML- I think you are an ass. I said that the Amphitheater at Harding was a wasteof money- whether stae of federal or Taxpayers here in Bridgeport. I do not care about the imput of the neighbors wanting a 500,000 theater. At Harding- This school has functioned for decades in a sub par building. Bassick High school doesn’t even have a athletic field. Our Classical academy and Park City Magnet do not have a suitable playground and they are among the finest schools we have in the city. If you think that an Amphitheater would get use at Harding, think again. Yes it will lay waste. You drone on and on and on about absolutely ridiculous things it is painful to even read your posts. You are so brilliant that many are clammorring for your pearls of wisdom. I do not question your inteligence. I do question your common sense and lack od social skills. Tou are concerned about development for downtown for the Poli/Majestic theaters after 50 years of darkness. You question the Amphitheaters by a group of proven professionals after the Bluefish have been a proven failure for the city.
          I want Harding to be a top notch state of the art school. Fairchild Wheeler Memorial, a gorgeous facility on a magnificent campus catering to many communities does not have an Amphitheater. Harding does not need this added extra.

          No I did not look into the actual plans simply because I really had no interest believing the BOE was lookin into it . I didn’t hink they felt it was necessary for an amphitheater. I am nore interested in Bridgeport Hospitals expansion taking over the old Harding and a new School on the GE site. I am also hoping that the rest of the property is used for development as well as the Remington property expanding to the Nob Hill Condo is cleaned up and developed into White collar manufacturing and R and D as well as Company headquarters. So, while you are nit picking at everything- I am looking for the future of Bridgeport and major development. Take the 500,000 for the theater at Harding and upgrade the Magnet schools in Bridgeport. That is about all I care to discuss on this .As always John, Thank you for engaging me in your insulting banter. I am many things. Ingnorance
          wouldn’t be one of my qualities.

          • John Marshall Lee

            Steve,
            Are you using too many words to defend your initial statement? You have often told readers that you do not talk about money. So how were we to learn that you were referring to wasted funds?

            If we changed the phrase to “stage” that became accessible to folks outdoors on the lawn and inside in an auditorium, or at least that is my take, would it diminish your criticism?

            By the way, the root of ignorance is to assume that you know it all. I regard myself as a lifetime learner, about people and their motivations and behavior, about things, and the too many facts available. I try not to IGNORE, but rather to integrate what I learn into a “world view”. I do not bow down to slave loyalty as you seem to where after each election phase, you feature a new hero to follow, slavishly.

            You hope many things, but do not follow and advocate for them in any sort of effective manner, i.e. comments about reallocating $500,000 from School Capital budget to Magnet Schools operating budgets? Doesn’t happen that way, even if cheered on by OIB’s favorite substitute teacher (retired or not?).

            Steve, tell us what you really think about an issue, and standby your statement. Then we can discuss as adults. Time will tell.

  • Kelvin Ayala

    Besides the obvious, that the Bluefish were pushed out by this administration. That had nothing to do with attendance or other BS. They wanted to stay, they wanted an option to renew the lease. The city never met with them. Instead they issued and RFP. The Bluefish responded to that RFP, and never was there any meeting between them. Fast Forward, this Admin wants an ampitheathre: Great. The city will still own the property so it’s just a landlord/tenant relationship if approved. Howard Saffan’s company is the real potential tenant, NOT Live Nation, that’s just name dropping hype. Has he been asked by OPED to show a financial affidavit, credit rating, etc? The expected conversion will cost $15Million to $17Million. I know Mr. Saffan has a nice little business in Shelton and he made a few million selling his door construction business years back, but that’s a far cry from being solvent enough to secure bank funding to convert balllpark to this ampitheathre without putting the property up for collateral because he does not own it.

    Oh, there also that little thing of HarborYard Sports suing the city for “Conflict of Interest” regarding the arena contract.

    For the finance guys, has anyone detailed what the loss of ballpark lease revenue over the next 2 years going the impact the city’s budget?

    • Steven Auerbach

      Bottom line the Bluefish never took off jn Bridgeport. It really was a no brainer. We move forward. Better a Amphitheater to keep life downtown than to have it lay waste for 50 years .

      • Kelvin Ayala

        Steve,normally you are bright, but your comment is plane silly. Any business that last 2o years is pretty damn successful. That’s call taking off and doing pretty well, they had a rough patch, but the last 3 years were good for business and improving. We ruined a good thing, now they will move and still be in business, while we look at an empty building chasing pie in the sky rather than keeping the sure bet. The play here was to keep the bluefish and push ampitheathre to Harbor or Steelpointe developer. I’m pissed cause we should be having both, not one or the other

        • Steven Auerbach

          Kevin Ayala, I appreciate what youa said , but you are wrong. Very wrong. The Bluefish, though was as perfect as American Pie and a good thing for Bridgeport, It just could not succeed. It wasn’t a rough patch. It was years. Years of losing money. Years of doing everything possible to excite people. Years of giving away free tickets to fill the seats. I am not a sports fan but have gone occasionally to a Bluefish game as I have always supported Bridgeport. Always disappointed to see the stadium nearly empty. It it was a success , they would not have been left out in the cold. No different than other Bridgeport attractions that are patronized by out of towners. I would never want to see an all American enterprise leave the city. Anyone that told you the Bluefish was making money had just been lying to you. You have to strike while the iron is hot. Bridgeport north has the 500 million Poli/ 18 story highrise project. Investors saw the Stadium as a money maker and want to invest. Do we wait for the stadium to become vacant and lay waste for 50 years? I know many people are disappointed that the Bluefish are gone. I am certain Bill Finch and John Fabrizi can tell you yhey were failing. It wasn’t a Ganim thing. He just happens to have the developers that are interested in creating more of a vibe in the city. If the Casino would take hold, the Arena and the Amphitheater would be big enough to host for the MGM needs as their theater is apparently not very large..

  • Lisa Parziale

    There will be ten new Council members sworn in this December; they represent half of the residents of Bridgeport. It’s incomprehensible to deny these new members the opportunity to review the legalistic, pro and con of a project so complicated. It will take one reasonable sitting Council member to make a motion to table, another brave enough to second that motion, and nine more to vote in favor of the motion to table. When the new session begins in December, the mix of incumbents, along with the ten new members, can continue the task of reviewing the project so that they are informed and knowledgeable as they go forward.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Lisa, you imagine this should be tabled? You think this should wait for new council members. Inexperienced. Maybe you are right. Maybe the new members should vote for it so before they have to go for re-election in 2 years the shovel may be in the ground. I think most city residents want to see this happen. Especially the youth coming on the council. They have family members that have been waiting for 50 years!

      • Lisa Parziale

        Steve, it’s a common-sense decision.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        Steve,
        The ampitheater should be tabled for now, to be taken up by the incoming City Council. This would allow the people of the city of Bridgeport, THE PUBLIC, to weigh in.

        Not everyone wants an ampitheater. What looks good on paper doesn’t always work out in reality. An ampitheater is only good during the warmer months of the year. This is New England, not Florida, not southern California.

        not everyone wants a casino. In spite of MGM’s vague promises of 6000+ permanent fulltime jobs and millions of dollars for local municipalities there are still some unanswered questions. How many of the construction jobs will go to Bridgeport residents? The trade unions backed Ganim for re-election; the majority of the members live outside Bridgeport.

  • Donald Day

    I’m at a loss trying to figure how a baseball stadium/team that drew on average 200 each home game is better than a concert amphitheater. I can remember when the Webster Center was proposed there was an outcry of people saying what the hell is Bridgeport doing putting up this venue when the New Haven Colosseum was failing and the Hartford Civic Center was in deep dodo.

    Well is was built, opened and it’s the jewel of Bridgeport bringing in entertainment that we’ve never had and that’s a great place to attend. Give it a break people something is better than nothing and the baseball stadium and team were nothing to the majority of Bridgeport residents.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Donald Day , perfectly stated!

    • Kelvin Ayala

      Stop spewing nonsense. The average attendance for the Bluefish last year was about 2700 per home game. https://ballparkdigest.com/2016/09/19/2016-independent-attendance-by-average/

      This year was a good season and attendance was up from last year. You guys spewing this nonsense about attendance are not fans or simply didn’t go, or you looked at pics of a 5pm start game on a Tuesday when no one is going to go.

      Furthermore attendance didn’t have nothing to do with “WHY” the Bluefish are gone. It was a big ego, hate for the owner Boultron, and Bridgeporters always wanting something shinier than appreciating something we have. The Bluefish paid it’s rent, you should not care of 5ppl show or 5000, rent is rent.

      One more fact, with home games, special events like concerts, Brew Fest and other stuff, that Stadium averaged 60+ events a year. Name one concert that will happen at the new place that can’t be done at the Arena. This all about Saffan trying to shove it up the *ss of his former partner Wang. If you didn’t know Saffan was the president of Soundtigers and ran the Arena. You damn right he knows it’s a conflict to build next door, but he will test the waters to spite someone at the taxpayers expense.

      My gut instinct we will have an empty shell for years to come.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The baseball team would have been a better fit if it was a major league farm team, AA or AAA. MLB would have drawn larger crowds.

    This is yet another occasion when the Ganim/Testa axis games the system to slip a project under the radar of public discussion. The people of the city of Bridgeport have no voice as long as the same clowns are running the circus.

  • Eric Alicea

    The issue with the amphitheater is the Operator of the Arena stating that he will sue the city for breach of contract. That alone should be a reason the deal needs more review.

    I feel the stadium is best used as a baseball stadium.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      I agree. It would be in the city’s best interest to establish contacts with the Yankees or the Mets, major league teams with farm team systems. A triple-A farm team would bring in the business. An ampitheater is not going to do anything that can’t be done at Webster Arena.

  • Stringfellow

    It’s too bad there was not anything that kept people downtown either before a game or event at the arena or ballpark. There are no family oriented food venues to patronize in the area.

    So far there are no plans for any let’s hope that changes

  • Bob Walsh

    Picking up where Lisa left off, I would like too recommend that NO contracts can come before the council after the primary date period.
    The mayor and / or city council could bind the city to a bad deal for personal enrichment. We can put a caveat on this that it must pass unanimously to be approved by all 20 members.
    Seems reasonable. And if it a good deal then the contract will be ready before the Primary.

  • Donald Day

    Kelvin those numbers that you alluded to are less that one half of one percent of the population of Bridgeport. Is this stadium good business practice for the city of Bridgeport. I don’t know of one person that has attended a Bluefish game since its inception, in fact when I was involved with the Juneteenth Parade committee we had free tickets and couldn’t give them away. It’s a loss of you’re a Bluefish fan, but if you’re a Bridgeport fan it’s great for the city.

  • Stringfellow

    At least the Bluefish were here and did have a following all though the attendance fell off over the years. There is no guarantee this lastest venue is going to get off the ground. If it does will it be on the scheduled date? Will the extra roll of red tape cause delay after delay where people will change their minds leaving an empty stadium and nothing at all.

    If that happens what would the future hold for the stadium? Look what happened to the Bridgeport Jets? The details of an outdoor concert venue should have been worked out before the announcement and only after they gave the Bluefish an option.(

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