The Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent minor-league baseball team often cited as a symbol of the city’s revitalization, has lost more than $3 million since being founded in 1997, team officials said.
As a result, the team has asked the city for givebacks, lower lease fees and a large reduction in personal property taxes paid on stadium equipment, the Connecticut Post reported.
“I don’t want people to think we are bankrupt or we are about to go out of business,” team owner Mickey Herbert told the Post. “But I can’t continue to underwrite these losses for a whole lot longer.”
The team just completed its fourth season in the Atlantic League, playing at the city-owned Ballpark at Harbor Yard. Attendance this year dipped to about 250,000 fans, after topping 300,000 in each of the first three years.
The team is operating under a five-year lease that expires next year, and is proposing a new 10-year lease with a 10-year option.
Herbert wants the new lease to reduce the share of revenue generated by skybox rentals that the team pays to the city from 25 percent to 10 percent. He also wants to eliminate nearly all of the $250,000 in personal property taxes paid by the team.
Herbert said the team has been paying the city upward of $700,000 a year, based on a variety of charges. Along with personal property taxes, the team pays the city a minimum yearly rent of $115,000, or 10 percent of gross ticket sales, depending on which is larger.
Mayor Joseph P. Ganim’s administration is supporting the new lease proposal. The matter is now before the City Council’s Contracts Committee, which will soon decide whether to refer it to the full council.