Al Moll is Park Director for the City of Fort Wayne including the Foellinger Theatre. He has guided its success with his business acumen and passion for classic rock. He answers questions about his role and the 2017 concert series.
Q1: How did you become involved in organizing concerts at Fort Wayne’s Foellinger Theatre?
Before entering public service in 2003, I was a bank executive and owned a business. I came aboard to help the previous mayor as city controller and became the first deputy mayor of the city. In 2005, the park department began looking for a new director. I expressed interest and was appointed.
As director, I oversee the theater, conservatory, community centers, 86 parks, pools and golf courses. We run about 1,500 programs a year all over the city. We have four youth centers, the Lifetime Sports Academy and Salomon Farm. The mayor also asked me to lead the Riverfront Development Phase 1.
My personal passion is the Foellinger Theatre. Ten years ago, it was pretty much dead. I felt we might have an opportunity there, so we took a chance and brought in a few national acts. It was a huge success. So we started to build up each year. Now we have 20 to 25 concerts a year. Basically it’s a $2 million operation. But it doesn’t cost taxpayers. We run it like a business model with a separate fund from the city. You can’t expect residents to pay for something they don’t attend.
Q2: How do you choose the bands that come to play? Our primary strategy has been the baby boomer market. We felt there was an opportunity there because of their discretionary income – with the goal that we could bring back good memories and provide a great experience. Success has been overwhelming.
Another thing we’ve done well is to provide different price points for our community. We bring in national tribute bands that are top shelf. We charge less but it’s just like seeing the real deal.
This year is the first year we’re trying to serve a different demographic too with some concerts picks, while staying faithful to what’s working. We don’t want to get greedy.