June 9, 2006
Albany - Friday, John Mazzola finished his first week as Albany Civic Center Director.
The 49-year-old Mazzola started his job this week, at a time when a string of scheduled events were canceled because of poor ticket sales. He replaces former director Mattie Goddard who sued the City for unfairly firing her.
But Mazzola says the Civic Center's difficult past only motivates him to get right to work. "I hit the ground running on Monday."
And already he faced a canceled show -- a comedian who decided not perform following sluggish advance ticket sales. Cancellations are a disappointing recurrence that have deterred customers from buying tickets in advance which has in turn kept promoters from coming to the hesitant market.
"We need to build a track record of success." To do that, Mazzola says they must stick with events that have proven to be successful, like children shows and reach out to rising stars.
"We need to identify what we're hitting that's positive and what misses we've had that can now fall to the side and how we can get those rising star artists on their way up and artists on their way down and bring them out here."
Mazzola says there's not much hope of getting big names to Albany anymore. "From the mid eighties to earlier nineties, performing artist talent fees were very, very reasonable. Those fees have doubled and tripled."
Mazzola admits the civic center needs to repair relationships with promoters who left Albany angry with the former administration.
And he says he won't turn away business even if there's a risk of cancellations just to save face. "I agree we want to have a successful track record but at the same time, I certainly don't want to turn away potential business men because we may find that one diamond in the ruff."
Mazzola says the success of the venues depend on the community as much as the city's staff. "When they see an event they want to visit, they need to get their tickets. They need to show the promoter, we're coming."
Mazzola certainly faces nay-sayers as he starts his uphill battle, but he says his job is simple - to bring good entertainment to a city starving for fun.
Mazzola comes from Okeechobee, Florida, where he was the facilities director of the county's agri-civic center.