ALBANY -- John Mazzola is getting the heck INTO Dodge ... Dodge City, Kan., that is.
Mazzola, who is a couple of months shy of a four-year tenure as director of the Albany Civic Center, announced Monday that he had resigned that position to take one as general manager for private firm Global Entertainment of Tempe, Ariz. Mazzola, 55, will manage facilities for Dodge City/Ford County, Kan., one of four major Global clients.
"It's a great opportunity," Mazzola, who sent a letter of resignation to Assistant Albany City Manager Wes Smith dated March 26, said Monday afternoon. "The project is exciting, the opportunity is exciting and the facilities are really exciting.
"On the Associated Press Stress Index, Ford County is the No. 1 least economically stressed county in the United States. The people there are employed, they have money and they can buy tickets to entertainment events."
Ford County, population between 25,000-30,000, has one of the country's lowest unemployment rates. It currently is at 3.2 percent.
As one of four general managers for Global Entertainment, which also manages facilities in Independence, Mo.; Prescott, Ariz.; and McAllen, Texas, Mazzola will be in charge of a 5,000-seat Dodge City/Ford County Events Center that is currently under construction. The facility, which can hold a crowd of 8,000 for larger concerts, also houses a 12,000-square-foot conference center.
The events center, which is being built with Why Not Dodge? tax funds -- similar to special-purpose local-option sales tax collections here -- will be managed through a private/public partnership with Global. It is located on land adjacent to the Boot Hill Casino, the first gambling facility in the region, which opened late last year.
"That's another plus," Mazzola said. "We'll become a showcase stopover for entertainment events tied into the casino."
Within three months of the opening of the Dodge City/Ford County Events Center, Global will also take over management and operation of the nearby 2,200-seat Dodge City Civic Center.
"We'll be starting from scratch in a community that has a lot of history," Mazzola said. "I anticipate during the first six to eight months, while construction is ongoing, I'll be spending a lot of time at (Global-managed facilities in) Independence to get a feel for the market.
"The beauty of the facilities in Dodge City is that they didn't overbuild. The events center is made to hold concerts for 4,000 or 8,000. In today's market, that's something promoters are looking for when they book their acts."
Albany officials said they have not named an interim director for the Civic Center while they search for Mazzola's successor.
"Mr. Mazzola did a fine job during his tenure here," Smith said Monday. "He has taken on a position that will be a challenge, and we wish him the best of luck in his career."
A native of Queens Village, N.Y., who grew up in Hackettstown, N.J., Mazzola earned a degree in Sports Administration from Biscayne College with a dream of being an equipment manager in the NFL.
"The fact that there are only 28 teams in the NFL soon dawned on me, and I got involved in the events side of (sports administration)," he said.
The budding events manager got his start parking cars at the Hollywood Sportatorium in Hollywood, Fla., and graduated to a position working with the New York Arrows of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was named stadium manager of Holleden Stadium, home of the MISL's Rochester (N.Y.) Lancers, and later became assistant general manager of the league's Houston Summit.
Mazzola's career then took him back to Rochester (with the Lancers), to Orlando (as manager of the Tangerine Bowl), to Columbus, Ohio, (as Veterans Memorial Auditorium manager), to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., (Fort Lauderdale stadium manager), assistant director and later general manager of the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla., to Buffalo, N.Y., (with Metropolitan Entertainment), to Monroe, La., (with Leisure Management Inc.), to Florence, S.C., (with LMI) and to Okechobee, Fla., (as manager of an equestrian center) before coming to Albany.
Mazzola, who with his wife Linda has twin 7-year-olds Olivia and Joseph, is one of 170 active Certified Facilities Executives who have met the criteria established by the International Association of Assembly Managers. His resignation is effective May 14.