Ballpark at Harbor Yard to become concert venue

It appears to be the final innings for the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim Monday announced that the Ballpark at Harbor Yard, home to the Bluefish for their 20-year history, would be transformed into a concert venue. Ganim announced that the developer chosen for the project is Harbor Yard Amphitheatre LLC, a partnership between concert promoter Live Nation and Howard Saffan, owner of SportsCenter of Connecticut in Shelton.

A release from Ganim’s office said they have been chosen “as the developers and operators to bring entertainment to Bridgeport’s Harbor Yard with the development of a state-of-the-art amphitheater.“

A public/private partnership will spend $15 million to transform the stadium, according to Ganim’s office. The city will retain ownership of the amphitheatre.

A press conference has been scheduled for Thursday, August 10, to officially announce the deal.

“Bridgeport is excited and ready for this next step in revitalizing our city with positive development and providing music entertainment by bringing in a partner and company like Live Nation,” Ganim said in a press release. “We’ve enjoyed 20 years of successful entertainment with Bluefish Baseball and all that the Bluefish and owner, Frank Bolton, have done for our community. This next chapter of Bridgeport’s future is bright with the benefits and experience of a world-known entertainment company like Live Nation, and the historic success of Saffan as a venue operator, to bring in concerts and shows that will certainly put Bridgeport in the forefront as a destination place for family and friends.”

"We are proud of the 20-year run the Bridgeport Bluefish have had," Boulton said in a statement from the club. "While we are disappointed the city decided to turn the ballpark into a 29-date concert venue, we wish them the best of luck, and we hope that all Bluefish fans will come out to support their first-place team as they drive towards a championship."

"This is a great boutique amphitheatre for Bridgeport. We are looking forward to bringing great artists to Bridgeport," concert promoter Jim Koplik said in a release from Ganim’s office.

“It is an honor to be awarded the RFP,” Saffan said in a release from Ganim’s office. “Harbor Yard Amphitheater will be a ‘game changer’ for the City of Bridgeport.”

Plans call for the venue to host 25 concerts each summer.

“To have a partner like Live Nation insures the success of our state of the venue,” Saffan said.

In 2016, Live Nation promoted almost 26,300 music events that were attended by nearly 71 million fans, according to a press release.

“This is an exciting opportunity to further enhance what is happening in Bridgeport’s downtown,” said Thomas Gill, director of Bridgeport’s Office of Planning and Economic Development. “Live Nation is a nationally owned company that will be able to bring entertainment to be enjoyed by Bridgeport and surrounding towns throughout Connecticut.”

The Bluefish were a charter member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an independent minor league with no Major League affiliations.

The Bluefish have welcomed more than 3 million fans to The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, according to the club. The ballpark has also hosted concerts, charity events, car shows, professional lacrosse, celebrity sporting events, University of Bridgeport baseball, Sacred Heart University baseball, the FCIAC high school baseball championships, professional soccer and more, in addition to 70 regular season Bluefish games each season. In all, according to the Bluefish, more than 2,000 events have been held in the 20-season history at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard.

The Bluefish have 20 remaining regular season home dates in the ballpark.