During the past week, the Grand Ole Opry updated their upcoming shows on their website, including ticket and pricing information for the 2014 shows When I looked at the ticket prices for the shows starting in February, when the Opry moves back to the Grand Ole Opry House, I was amazed at the price increases that the Opry is taking and some of the changes in the pricing sections.
The Opry has added a "Premium Main Floor" ticket that will sell for $69.50. Yes, that is correct. $69.50 to sit in the first dozen rows in the center sections of the Opry House. That is an increase of $12.50 per ticket.
The rest of the main floor is broken down into 2 sections, with the rest of what we used to call the "Gold Circle Seating", which has expanded, costing $58.50, while the rest of the main floor that includes the end sections on each side and the seating under the balcony costing $46.50. That is an increase of $1.50 for each of those sections.
If you want to sit upstairs in the mezzanine or balcony, that will cost you also. The lower mezzanine will cost $46.50 per ticket, an increase of $1.50. The upper mezzanine and balcony will be priced at $39.50, which is an increase of $4.50. And finally, the Opry is advertising what are called "limited view mezzanine" and "limited view balcony" tickets for $39.50. Those are the seats against the wall where you can only see the very front of the stage and the last several rows in the balcony, which is so far up that you need the video screens to really see what is going on.
As far as the schedule, it looks very pretty much the same as 2013. There will be one show Friday and Saturday night, unless the demand is there for a 2nd show. The Tuesday Night Opry and Opry Country Classics will also be returning. It still looks like 2 shows for the birthday weekend, and 2 shows on Saturday night when the Opry moves back to the Ryman in November and December.
When I go to the Opry, I tend to buy tickets right down front, but to be honest, I might have to think this over. $69.50 is a pretty hefty price for what is presented most weeks. And as the quality of some of the shows have gone down, so do the number of artists per show. If a family of 4 decides to go to the Opry and wants prime seats, it is going to cost them almost $300 to just get in the door.
When the Grand Ole Opry moved to the Opry House in 1974, it cost $2.00 to sit in the balcony.(I know some who read this blog go back further than that), and most years since, the Opry has raised their ticket prices in the range of $1.00 per year, But since 2000, it seems as if the Opry has gotten pretty aggressive with the price hikes. Just looking back, in 2000 for a main floor seat at the 75th anniversary show, it was $18.94 plus tax for a total of $20.50. That was also the year that the Opry started selling the "Gold Circle Seats", which were $32.33 plus tax for a total of $35.00.By 2003, those "Gold Circle Seats" were up to $36.61 plus tax for a total of $40.00. In 2005, 2 years later, that same seat would cost $45.00, while the back areas of the main floor could be had for $34.50 and $24.50 if you sat up in the balcony. By 2008, the Opry no longer printed the prices on the tickets.
So in the course of the decade from 2004 to 2014, for a prime seat, the Opry has gone from $40.00 to $69.50, and increase of just over 73%!! I have to ask, is the product that they are presenting that much better than 2004 to justify all of that increase? I'm not so sure.
But the formula and business model works. Reduce the number of shows which lowers the overall costs by reducing the number of artists to be paid, lower utility bills and less Opry staff needed to work, while at the same time raising the prices for the shows that they do put on, knowing that there will be an increased demand for those tickets. But at some point, you would think that the Opry will reach their limit with the fans who are paying those higher prices.
It hasn't reached that point for me, but it does have me thinking on where I will sit.