BRIDGEPORT — Unable to finalize a deal with the new amphitheater, the Connecticut Lottery Corporation is negotiating with another unnamed venue — likely the entertainment arena next door — to host the retail destination site promised to the city when lawmakers of the state legalized sports betting last year.

“We are still moving aggressively in Bridgeport, understanding the importance there,” Andrew Walter, director of business and legal affairs for the Rocky Hill-based lottery for sports betting, said at the weekend.

In an interview last December, Walter’s stated goal was to open a betting venue in Bridgeport during “the first part of 2022” and he confirmed three sites of interest: the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheatre, which opened its doors last July; the Total Mortgage sports and entertainment arena next door; and the redevelopment of Steelpointe, which already houses Bass Pro Shops, a new marina and the Boca Oyster Bar.

All are located near downtown, the port, and Interstate 95.

This week, Walter said there was a delay because the Lottery “pivoted from an entity that we thought we were moving forward with, and that didn’t happen for a variety of reasons.

“We’ve kind of…started the search again and plan to move forward with another party at this time,” Walter said. “We are still evaluating some things.”

He declined to identify the original or new location.

But Howard Saffan, developer of the municipally owned and privately run amphitheater, said the building was originally intended to house the new sports betting site.

“We have started conversations with the Connecticut Lottery. We thought we had made a deal with them. And then, at the last moment, economically, the deal changed and it didn’t make sense for us to go any further,” Saffan said this week. “I understand their intention was to approach the arena to use their space.”

“We certainly spoke to them,” Walter said of Saffan and the amphitheater, adding of the arena, “That’s another entity we’ve had discussions with.”

In a statement, officials at the arena – the facility is owned by Bridgeport and leased to the Bridgeport Islanders hockey team – said, “We continue to engage with the Connecticut Lottery around exciting opportunities and exciting here. … At this time, no agreement has been reached and we look forward to further conversations with all parties involved.

State Rep. Antonio Felipe, D-Bridgeport, who represents Downtown, said he understands the amphitheater and the arena “are always the two most important places in these (lottery) discussions. “.

“With the arena, I think there are certain advantages to being there, namely the sporting events that we organize from time to time,” Felipe said.

In addition to Islanders home games, the arena has hosted Fairfield University men’s and women’s basketball, Sacred Heart University hockey and, last March, the University of Connecticut women’s Final Four. .

Felipe added that he looked forward to the Lottery opening its Bridgeport site to benefit local and national economies.

“The sooner we can get that revenue, the better,” he said.

After failing for decades to bring a casino to Bridgeport, officials here pivoted to ensure that at least one of the state’s 15 licensed sports betting retailers would open locally.

In December, Walter outlined the three business models the Lottery can consider for these venues: Bobby V’s restaurant/sports bar-style entertainment destinations; other types of local sports restaurants/bars; and no-frills retailers where fans returning from work on Fridays can place a quick bet for the weekend.

As for what would be open in Bridgeport, Walter had said, “Bridgeport is just a big city in the state, so we’re going to want to do something there to maximize retail sports betting sales. …I don’t envision it as a “come and go” type place.

Walter said this week that approach has not changed.

“The goal is to do something a little more than a sports bar,” he said. “It’s just that finding the perfect partner to move forward with is taking a little longer than I would have liked.”

He would not commit to a revised schedule, but noted that it is possible that news from Bridgeport and other sports betting sites will be announced in the coming weeks. He also stressed the need to put them in order, not just open them for the sake of it.

“I have a number of projects that are in a similar kind of state, which is close but not there yet,” he said.