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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy: Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:00 am

$500,000 to name amphitheater

Ambassador Enterprises donates to get rights

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

A big donor has dropped anchor at the South Dock Amphitheatre, a future component of the Riverfront Fort Wayne project.

Ambassador Enter­prises will give $500,000 to the Park Foundation for naming rights to the amphitheater, officials announced Monday.

Exactly what that name will be is still under discussion, spokesman Jerod Hevel said.

Arlan Friesen, Ambassador Enterprise's president, described the donation as an opportunity for the philanthropic equity firm to demonstrate its commitment to the region and its residents.

“We look forward to seeing Riverfront Park become a gathering place enjoyed by families and friends for generations to come,” he said in a statement.

The amphitheater will be on the waterfront promenade, which will include a tree canopy trail, a pavilion, an event lawn, an entry plaza and children's play area.

“The slope of the river bank to the water will be shaped into large steps to provide seating and create an open-air venue for performances, entertainment and sports,” the firm said of the outdoor theater, which will accommodate about 850 guests.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July and take 18 months.

The amphitheater naming rights are one of several opportunities the city is offering local organizations that want to support the riverfront development project.

The Fort Wayne Rotary Club in January announced plans to pay for a $200,000 water jet fountain on the south plaza of the proposed Compass Pavilion along the St. Marys River.

Numerous funding ­sources are being tapped to get the riverfront development off the ground. They include Fort Wayne City Council, $12.9 million; the Regional Cities Initiative, $5.2 million; and Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board, $3 million.

Although Ambassador Enterprises typically offers training and consulting services to its community partners, Hevel said the amphitheater donation is strictly dollars and cents.

Among the for-profit equity firm's investments is the portion of The Summit campus on the south side of Rudisill Boulevard. The Summit, a former small Bible college, is home to socially minded organizations.

Two years ago, Ambassador Enterprises and Brightpoint, formerly CANI, had planned to turn the buildings into a set of live/work apartment units.

But community opposition scuttled the plan.

Earlier this year, Ambassador Enterprises was recognized as the 2016 For-Profit Employer of the Year at Indiana INTERNnet's annual IMPACT Awards Luncheon. Indiana INTERNnet is a statewide resource for internship opportunities managed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The firm was also included on the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

Daryle Doden created Ambassador Enterprises using profits from the $185 million sale of Ambassador Steel Corp. to a division of Nucor Corp. in 2008.

He is the father of Eric Doden, CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Ambassador Enterprises recently presented a $5,000 grant to GFW to partly underwrite annual dues for the first 100 people to join Athena Fort Wayne, an affiliate of Athena International. Members will have access to quarterly local programs and national conferences.

Annual dues are $150, but the first 100 will pay $100 each.

The international Athena Award program recognizes those who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in work while giving back to the community and empowering women. GFW sponsors the local awards.

sslater@jg.net