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Bridgeport Islanders

Bridgeport City Council Approves Deal to Keep Islanders, Renovate Arena

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Bridgeport Islanders home hockey arena
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

The longstanding feud between the City of Bridgeport and the AHL Islanders appeared to be coming to an end.

The City Council approved a settlement with the Bridgeport Islanders that would keep the team in Connecticut’s largest city for the next 10 years and renovate Webster Bank Arena. The city will spend $28 million to return the arena to “like-new condition,” according to the Connecticut Post.

The settlement passed with a 13-4 vote by the City Council earlier this week. As part of the deal, the city will add an additional $1.50 surcharge on all event tickets at the arena, except for Bridgeport Islanders games which will have a $2 surcharge.

The deal ends a long-running dispute between the city and Bridgeport Islanders. who have been squabbling over the now 20-year-old venue for the past five years. Issues became public in 2016 when Mayor Joe Ganim said that the Islanders owed $750,000 in back rent and the team pushed back saying that the city owed them $837,596 for maintenance and repairs made to Webster Bank Arena.

The matter was taken to court.

Tensions flared up again in 2017 when the City of Bridgeport and Howard Saffen began working on a project to turn the Ballpark at Harbor Yards into an outdoor concert venue. The team said that the venue violated the non-compete clause it has with the city.

“I’m grateful for those members supporting this,” Councilman Jorge Cruz told the Connecticut Post. “I support this 100 percent.”

The Bridgeport Islanders, who rebranded from the Sound Tigers name which they had carried since the team’s inception in 2001, play their first home game of the 2021-22 AHL season on October 23 against the Springfield Thunderbirds. This year is Bridgeport’s 20th anniversary season and the AHL is expecting to play a full schedule this year.

Last year, the Bridgeport Islanders played a modified 24 game schedule against just two teams, playing each club 12 times.

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