The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL), which manages Webster Bank Arena, say converting The Ballpark at Harbor Yard to an amphitheater would violate the terms of the team’s arena lease, which contains a noncompete clause prohibiting any city activity impacting event revenues.
A long-term lease for the home of the Bridgeport Bluefish (independent; Atlantic League) was put up for bid by the city, which went with a proposal from developer Howard Saffan and concert promoter Live Nation to convert the ballpark to an amphitheater, hosting some 29 concerts annually, as well as other smaller events. But Sound Tigers owner Jon Ledecky says the installation of a new music venue next to Webster Bank Arena, which hosts big-name concerts from the likes of Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, would be negatively impacted by an amphitheater. From CT Post:
Ledecky cited a “noncompetition” section of the Tigers’ contract for the arena, barring the city from constructing any facility “that would compete … for events and would have a material adverse impact on … revenue generation.”
“I therefore urge you to reconsider this course of action,” Ledecky wrote. “For if the city accepts the proposal, the Sound Tigers will be forced to exercise all of their rights under the operating agreement.”
The Ganim administration and the Sound Tigers are already embroiled in a legal battle over rent and investments in infrastructure, with both sides claiming the other owes money.
A noncompete like this is pretty common in the venue world. And the city did know it would be an issue when the bid from Saffan — a former Sound Tigers president who knows the arena’s business inside and out — was under consideration from the very beginning. In fact, the city met with Saffan, Live Nation reps and Sound Tigers management in an attempt to address this very issue. But the bid award was made public early, and the process, which was to include further input from the Sound Tigers on the impact on arena business, was short-circuited.