Opinion: Best is yet to come at amphitheater

Foo Fighters performed at the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport on Friday, Sept. 17.

Foo Fighters performed at the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport on Friday, Sept. 17.

Victoria Leonzi / Contributed photo

What a season it was! Eight years in the planning. Three years in construction. Leaving us with the question: will our vision truly turn into reality?

Utilizing a soft opening, we kicked off with 11 graduations. The concert season erupted on July 28 with the sold-out Styx/REO Speedwagon concert. The highlight of the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater concert season was hosting sell outs for the bands Kings of Leon, Greta Van Fleet (two concerts) and the Foo Fighters, serving as the only venue in the world to host both the Foo Fighters and Greta Van Fleet this summer.

In total, over 100,000 guests visited the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater. All this would not have been possible without the help and support of the city of Bridgeport, the City Council, Mayor Ganim, Live Nation, and of course, you. A big thank you to all who believed in the project from the very beginning, sponsors, club and suite holders, and those who have joined in the excitement along the way. For those who thought I was crazy for investing in Bridgeport, please visit us next year at 500 Broad St.

Over the course of the summer, downtown restaurants and hotels saw a boom on concert nights with people discovering what we knew all along — Bridgeport is a special place.

The economic impact of the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater has been felt throughout the city. From the foot traffic downtown, the jammed restaurants to the new jobs, Bridgeport is seeing its renaissance.

However, we are not done yet. The Amp will be home to the Holiday Light Spectacular, presented by St. Vincent’s Medical Center, a magical drive through experience running from Nov. 18 to Jan. 2, a festival of lights that will bring tens of thousands of visitors to the city this holiday season.

My association with Bridgeport started in 1986 with the acquisition of a small window company located on the corner of Knowlton Street and Barnum Avenue. Thirty-five years later, Bridgeport still remains near and dear to my heart. Giving back to the community is part of the amphitheater’s DNA. This season alone, the Amp hosted several COVID vaccine clinics, a college fair and a free symphonic concert to celebrate the BPT 200. The Jimmy Koplik Coat Drive raised over $100,000 to purchase coats for the homeless. Next month, we will be partnering with the Bridgeport Rescue Mission to distribute thousands of holiday turkeys for those in need. Additionally, the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater Charitable Foundation will soon be announced with the sole purpose of giving back to youth organizations located in Bridgeport.

And this is just the beginning. Next season we will be hosting more than 40 concerts, striving to bring festivals back to Seaside Park and serving as the epicenter for community events. As you can see, the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater is extremely proud to call Bridgeport home.

Thank you to everyone who made my vision and dream a reality. The best is yet to come.

Howard Saffan is president of the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport.