Here’s a flashback that you may have missed, there was a time where Donald Trump wanted to open a mega playland in Bridgeport.
It was June of 1994 when Donald Trump (when he was just a businessman and not President) teamed up with Bridgeport’s Mayor Joe Ganim (the first time he was mayor before he went to jail for corruption) to announce at a press conference that Trump had intentions of creating “Trump Park City Plaza” on Bridgeport’s waterfront. The $350 million dollar project would include an amusement park, shipping terminal, and seaport village on the east side of the harbor. The Trump/Ganim team announced that this “world class” place would bring Bridgeport back to it’s former glory and become a worldwide destination for tourists. Hell, he even promised the world’s biggest roller coaster. Keep in mind this project included land that was occupied by five businesses. Trump would take over the land by the powers of condemnation- but he offered to give the businesses the opportunity to lease office space in his seaport area. In the end, Trump would own all the land and be the owner of this massive endeavor. How about that casino we’ve been talking about forever? Nope. Trump said that he had no plans to put a casino at Trump Park City Plaza. Of course, the catch to that was that he wouldn’t build a casino… but no one else could either.
That’s where Bridgeport’s dream of stardom ends. Following this announcement in March of 1995, city voters agreed that a casino could be built in Bridgeport. Bids began coming in from the Mashantucket Pequot tribe (aka, the people that run Foxwoods), and Mirage Resorts, owned by billionaire Steve Wynn. Note: Steve Wynn is Trump’s mortal enemy. In order for any of this to pass, Connecticut would have to rewrite laws because as they stood only Native American tribes could establish casinos in their federally recognized areas.
Trump would not move forward with his plan if there was a shot that his rival could put a casino in Bridgeport. To him, that was a deal breaker. All of the wealthier towns surrounding Bridgeport were very much against the casino because they felt it would bring more traffic and riff raff to their areas. Trump worked with lobbyists to make sure Wynn wouldn’t win the casino war. All the efforts worked, which is a major reason why only Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are still the only two casinos in existence in Connecticut. If Trump couldn’t win, no one could.
Trump had one problem though- back taxes. He had purchased a five-acre parcel of Bridgeport land in hopes for the casino. It was his safety net in case the state actually passed the legislation. He had a $300,000 bill from the city. Not surprisingly, Trump complained and basically said he wasn’t going to kill himself to make the project happen and didn’t agree with the tax assessment. He complained loudly. Mayor Ganim made a deal where the city would buy back the land for $1 and forgive the debt. He already had a plan to bring a minor league baseball team to the city. The art of the deal you could say. That land became the Arena at Harbor Yard. Although Harbor Yard and Webster Bank Arena are hugely popular in Fairfield County, they are not nearly what Trump had envisioned and promised for “Trump Park City Plaza”.
The FBI investigated the deal, but Trump was cleared of any wrongdoing… except for breaking the hearts of all roller-coaster fanatics across the world.
Despite our best efforts to locate the press conference video of Mayor Joe Ganim and President Donald Trump, it seems to have vanished from the Internet.