The Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team is being kicked out of Harbor Yard by Mayor Joe Ganim, who is planning to turn the venue into a performance venue.
In a press statement issued Monday evening, Ganim announced a new partnership involving the music and entertainment company Live Nation and SportsCenter of Connecticut, a Shelton-based attraction owned by Howard Saffan, to create Harbor Yard Amphitheatre LLC to develop Harbor Yard for concerts. The city of Bridgeport will retain ownership of the site, which Ganim said would be redeveloped in a $15 million project through a public/private partnership.
The removal of the Bluefish did not come as a surprise. In an interview earlier this year with the Business Journal, the Atlantic League team’s principal owner and CEO Frank Boulton noted that the team’s lease ended this year and that stadium attendance had been declining, adding that he personally spent what he said was “a lot of money” to keep the team afloat. Boulton reacted to the city’s announcement in a statement, expressing that while the team was “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.”
The ballpark was built for about $19 million on the site of the former Jenkins Bros. valve factory, which was founded in 1864. The stadium opened on May 21, 1998.
Jack McGregor and his wife, Mary-Jane Foster, founded the Bridgeport Bluefish, which became part of the Atlantic League, which was started by Boulton, who later bought the team.
For his part, Ganim seemed eager to move past the Bluefish era – although this new chapter in Harbor Yard’s life would still require approval from the City Council before the venue is redeveloped.
“We’ve enjoyed 20 years of successful entertainment with Bluefish baseball and all that the Bluefish and owner, Frank Boulton have done for our community,” Ganim said. “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.”