Live Nation is bringing a new concert venue to the old Bridgeport Bluefish ballpark in Bridgeport, CT, and the CT Post says that the city will be entitled to the use of one skybox and 20 free tickets at each event.
TicketNews reported this summer on the new amphitheater being built in eastern Connecticut. The renovation of the former Ball Park at Harbor Yard is headed by Jim Koplik, regional president of Live Nation, and Howard Saffan, real estate developer and owner of the Sports Center of Connecticut.
“We intend to build an amphitheater that will put Bridgeport on the concert map,” Koplik said of the project this week.
The city’s contract with Saffan will head to City Council for a November 6 vote, and includes that, “the city shall be entitled to the exclusive use of one of the 20 sky boxes at the facility … and shall be entitled to 20 complimentary tickets for general seating to each event at no cost.”
The same city allotment was in place at the ballpark, home to the Bridgeport Bluefish Atlantic League, and also at the Webster Bank Arena next door, home to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey team and host to the occasional big name concert or event.
Rowena White, communications director for Mayor Joe Ganim, said in an email that the city retains the skyboxes and tickets because the arena, ballpark and amphitheater are all owned by Bridgeport.
“Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis and are also provided to local community organizations, nonprofits and charities as available and/or appropriate,” White wrote.
Terry O’Connor, executive director of the Cardinal Shehan Center, whose non-profit has been provided tickets to hand out to children or auction off in the past: “I would hope the amphitheater, if approved, that they’d make that available too from time to time.”
The contract also allows the city to “unilaterally sell, assign or sublease its skybox” and specifies that the 20 free tickets are “subject to the performer or a co-promoter other than Live Nation making such available.”
Saffan and Koplik have pitched the amphitheater from the beginning as having huge potential and drawing big name performers for up to 20 concerts per year.
“It sounds as if there is planned free entertainment for City Hall and the City Council for the most part and others that might have political and/or professional interests with said entities,” said former member of the city’s ethics commission, Jeff Kohut.
Kohut also questioned whether the average Bridgeport city worker would be given the opportunity to take advantage of Bridgeport City Hall’s free access to the skybox and tickets at these events.
“I kind of doubt it would be somebody at the laborer’s level that would be considered,” he said. “These are going to be used as perks as some sort, for any number of reasons we can speculate about.”
In Connecticut’s capital city of Hartford, home to the XL Center arena and the XFINITY amphitheater, city officials do not have access to free tickets or skyboxes.
At the newly opened Yard Goats baseball stadium, a skybox had been negotiated by prior Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, but his successor, Mayor Luke Bronin, declined it. Instead, the Yard Goats make 250 free tickets available to city employees for one specific game; this season, those tickets were offered through a lottery.
The new Bridgeport venue, if approved, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.