A conversion of the Ballpark at Harbor Yard into an amphitheater is moving forward, as city officials approved the plan for the former home of the Bridgeport Bluefish (independent; Atlantic League).
Earlier this year, Bridgeport officials opted to move forward with discussions on a proposal from developer Howard Saffan and concert promoter Live Nation that would lead to the Ballpark at Harbor Yard being converted into an amphitheater. As a result the Bluefish moved on at the conclusion of the 2017 season, playing their final game at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in September.
On Monday, the Bridgeport City Council voted 18-2 to allow mayor Joe Ganim to enter into an agreement with Saffan that would move the conversion process forward. While the proposal marks a new step for the facility, it has not come without some controversy, as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) have expressed concerns over how the project could affect the adjacent Webster Bank Arena. Local officials sought to address that issue in the final agreement. More from CTPost:
Saffan, a big smile on his face, headed to the City Hall exit. He said the next step is to over the coming days have the soil tested at the ball park, located between downtown and the harbor, to determine where and how to anchor what he has called an “iconic tensile roof” — a massive tent-like structure that will cover the amphitheater to allow shows, rain or shine.
But there is a storm cloud already hanging over the project. The Sound Tigers hockey team, under contract with the city to run the sports and entertainment arena next door, have threatened legal action over the amphitheater, arguing that it will pose competition.
Council members have taken that threat seriously. The deal with Saffan clarifies that Bridgeport would not be on the hook financially should the developer be unable to move forward. The city and Saffan are supposed to split the estimated $15 million renovation cost, including preliminary design and engineering work that could still move forward even if a groundbreaking was delayed over a legal battle.
“Basically if this blows up, the city’s not obligated to reimburse any costs or expenses,” said outgoing Councilman Scott Burns, who helped negotiate that requirement.
Saffan and Live Nation have pledged to attract a minimum of 20 major acts to the venue annually. Ballpark at Harbor Yard’s conversion to an amphitheater would be completed by the spring of 2019.
As for how this affects the Atlantic League, the circuit’s 2018 schedule shows the Road Warriors taking the place of the Bluefish. The club could find a full-time home in High Point, NC starting in 2019, provided that a plan for a new ballpark as part of a larger downtown redevelopment effort moves forward.
RELATED STORIES: Bridgeport Bluefish Play Ballpark at Harbor Yard Finale; Bridgeport Bluefish Planning Their Future; Sound Tigers Oppose Bridgeport Ballpark Conversion to Amphitheater; Bluefish Out of Ballpark at Harbor Yard; Changes Pitched for Ballpark at Harbor Yard; Future of Ballpark at Harbor Yard: Baseball, Soccer, Concerts?