6 Questions With...

Al Moll, Park Director for City of Fort Wayne, Foellinger Theatre
Donna Detweiler
Steve Vorderman
6 Questions With...

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. 

Q3: What do you have lined up for the 2017 summer season? You can see (in order) Chicago, Kansas, ZZ Top, Christopher Cross with Stephen Bishop, Pink Droyd, Journey former lead vocalist Steve Augeri, The Spinners, The Stranger (Billy Joel tribute band), Blue Oyster Cult and Mark Farner, The Lettermen, Diana Ross, Stayin’ Alive (BeeGees tribute band), Barenaked Ladies, Hotel California (Eagles tribute band), The Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, BritBeat (Beatles tribute band) and the Happy Together Tour.  Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Love and Comedy Tour is coming on Sept. 5. I think it’s a nice change of pace. We also have a free concert and movie series. On Wednesday nights, the Harry Potter movies will show using technology that allows for outdoor summer viewing before dark.  There’s something for everyone’s taste.   

Q4: What is your all-time favorite concert? Last year’s highlight was Ringo Starr and his All Star Band. Quite a coup! Ringo Starr doesn’t do much touring. So to see an original Beatle was a once in a lifetime opportunity that happened in Fort Wayne.   

Q5: What can a new concert goer expect? Foellinger Theatre is an open-air venue. On a summer evening, it’s the best place to be, even if it rains. We can seat close to 2,800, including 1,800 theater style seats and 900 upper back reserve seats—bleacher style.  There’s not a bad seat in the house. Tickets cost from $20 to $149 depending on the performer and seating. Don Hall’s runs our concert concessions. Beer and wine are available.  

Q6: How does the concert series benefit our community? The Foellinger Theatre is just a recognizable good experience. It’s become a Fort Wayne fixture. People are willing to dedicate their spendable income for a staycation of sorts. Families put it into their budgets.  We’re blessed, lucky, that it continues to go as well as it has. But we’re not sitting on our laurels. We listen to customers and we listen to performers so it continues to be a success.

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