State Funds to renovate Webster Bank Arena, home of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL), are including in a package pitched by Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim. However, some state officials are expressing their concern over the timing of the proposal.
Ganim revealed in April that he was asking for $185 million in state bonding money to address a variety of projects in the city. Two of the main components of the plan were renovations to Bridgeport’s downtown sports venues–Webster Bank Arena, and adjacent The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, which is home to baseball’s Bridgeport Bluefish (independent; Atlantic League).
The announcement came after Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy revealed in February that his state budget included funds for improvements to Hartford’s XL Center. As part of that proposal, the XL Center would receive $250 million for a multi-phase renovation that would modernize its offerings and potentially put in Hartford in a position to attract an NHL franchise.
The legislative session is continuing as lawmakers work to finalize the budget, and do so before an adjournment date of June 7. Thus far, state lawmakers are not completely ruling out the possibility of funds for Bridgeport, but some contend that the proposal ideally would have surfaced sooner. More from CT Post:
Ideally the Ganim administration would have submitted a detailed request to the governor and to legislative leaders over the winter, before the General Assembly convened Jan. 4. But the $185 million proposal is a response to Malloy’s February decision to spend $250 million renovating Hartford’s XL Center a multipurpose arena and convention center.
“As soon as the governor’s budget came out with $250 million for XL, the mayor said, ‘We really need to do something for Bridgeport’,” [Ganim liaison with the city’s legislative delegation] Av [Harris] said.
[State representative Ezequiel] Santiago said, “It’s an issue with regards to equity. I support my fellow municipality, but don’t want to be left-empty handed.”
State Rep. Steven Stafstrom agreed with [State senator Marilyn] Moore that “it would have been preferable to have this earlier on in the process.”
“The bottom line is if you don’t ask, you’re certainly not going to get it,” Stafstrom said. “I don’t see the harm in making the ask.”
Along with hosting the Sound Tigers, Webster Bank Arena is used for many indoor events in Bridgeport, including major concerts. The arena opened in 2001.