The double plays turned at second base at the old ballpark at Harbor Yard will convert to double octaves of music next summer at the amphitheater now under construction … if weather cooperates. That’s where the stage will be equipped as work continues for a projected opening next summer showcasing some of the world’s hottest performers in a joint venture by mega concert promoter Live Nation and sports entrepreneur Howard Saffan.
In July, Saffan and Live Nation executive Jim Koplik joined city officials at the groundbreaking for 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 city-owned venue, replacing the ballpark where the Bluefish played, will seat roughly 5,500.
Saffan on Tuesday shared images of the construction underway. The timeline for a projected opening next summer depends on the winter and spring weather, he says.
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.
Who’ll enshrine the Harbor Yard Amphitheater opener? Bridgeport native John Mayer is at the top of Koplik’s list.
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. 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. Fully opened, it will operate April-October. Saffan announced all but a couple of the 22 suites for the venue have been filled.
The city is splitting $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.
Koplik and Saffan, former president of Webster Bank Arena, say 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 to cost factors, such as air conditioning, so warm-weather amphitheaters, says Koplik, have emerged as consumer destinations.