Monday, November 11, 2013

2014 Grand Ole Opry Ticket Prices

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.


  1. One of the regrets of my life is that I never got to the Opry when the Opry was the Opry. Now, I don't feel the same compulsion to get there. But for these prices ... I've said it here before, but the mistake management is making was explained by a New York Times editor named Abe Rosenthal. He said during tough times, other papers added water to the soup but, he said, The Times adds vegetables. The Opry is watering the soup, just like a lot of newspapers that are now ... closed.

  2. Well I went to the Opry in 2004. It was nearly 10 years ago and I was just 23 at the time. It has been my only trip so far. Several of those artists, Porter Wagoner, Hank Locklin, Mel McDaniel, Jack Greene are gone; Little Jimmy is not well and probably won't be back, and that just leaves a handful of artists left (and most of them or 70+) that I would even want to see. It still had the "Opry" feel then. I really don't know if I could say that or not if I went now. I have no interest at all in seeing Striking Matches, Barry Gibb, Little Big Town or any of these others new acts (Opry members or not). I do watch the show "NASHVILLE", but I really have no desire in seeing those actors at the Opry. Their chances of having big hit records are few and far between I'd say. The CMA awards this year made my skin crawl. I don't understand mainstream country music at all. I long and miss the Acuff, Snow, Grandpa & Minnie days. I don't know what it will take to get it headed back in the right direction. RFD is really helping I believe. There is a longing for traditional country music throughout this country - young and old alike. When the "gray hairs" and traditionalists turn their back on the Opry (as I feel is happening), how long will it survive? Are Garth, Trisha, Clint, Dolly, Patty, Travis and others going to start making the required shows a year? Doubtful. What I consider the greatest show on earth, may be rolling too fast and too quick to survive to their centennial.

  3. Fred, Bismarck:

    David B., I'm afraid the modern country scene is something we did to ourselves. We mostly followed where the Suits led. I'm as guilty as any. My collection of 45s from the 1950s is full of Chet Atkins-, Don Law-, Ken Nelson- and Owen Bradley-produced crap that I wouldn't dream of putting on the turntable today. Yet I fed the monster with my dollars (which, in those days, were earned by pushing an unpowered lawn mower around!)

    I'm not knowledgeable about jazz, but THERE is a minority musical form that seems to have survived -- albeit not rewarding its practitioners with great wealth -- without prostituting its essential nature as commercial "country" has.

    So, country could have remained more true to itself. But doing so would have required it to be remain smaller -- which, as we have seen, history would not allow.

  4. I've always thought of country music as a big tent with a lot of room for a lot of different approaches--I just don't want to listen to all of them! But I think of the Opry the same way. The problem is ... well, Byron and I are baseball fans, and there used to be an announcer with the White Sox, Bob Elson, who a lot of people considered boring. He once told another announcer that if you go pell-mell for eight innings, what do you do if the ninth inning is thrilling? You have nowhere to go.

    The danger with the Opry is that the current management has so minimized and devalued the older members that the Opry will no longer be the Opry at all. I don't mind guests. I understand it. Brad Paisley has said that his fans ideally will come away saying that Little Jimmy Dickens guy is great, and maybe the old-timers will think that kid Paisley did all right. But it doesn't matter if Paisley can't be bothered to show up.

  5. Fred, Bismarck:

    Michael, I'm also a big-tent guy ... really. The Bear Family "Hillbilly Hit Parade" series has reinforced for me that things like horns and modern sentiments have always been part of the scene. Jimmie Rodgers himself -- the "father" -- experimented with all kinds of styles.

    I just think things have been tipped so far the other way now that even the Opry Square Dance Band is heavy with the kind of percussion that Pee Wee (or somebody) supposedly had to hide behind a curtain! And we are asked to swallow -- to tolerate, showing how inclusive we are -- a preponderance of, not just occasional, acts that have nothing to do with country music at all, such as Sons of Fathers.

    The country we all profess to like is still out there ... as the minority music it was always supposed to be. It's not on the radio, but you can still buy it. Once in a while it even shows up on the Opry, in modern incarnations such as Old Crow Medicine Show and Carolina Chocolate Drops.

    Those are the Opry moments I wait for. I don't care if most of the modern radio "stars" show up or not.

  6. Fred, I say amen to you in every respect. One note: the Square Dance Band is now just Earl White. Even the Crook Brothers had a snare drum in later years, although I suspect Herman Crook tried to kick Harold Weakley when he brought it out. I have a great CD of Earl's live performances with Charlie Collins at the Opry (sometimes with Eddie Stubbs joining in). On it, you can hear the piano and drums a good bit. But I hear ya. Boy, do I hear ya.