Ryman To Get $14 Million Upgrade To Non-Historic Areas

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Ryman To Get $14 Million Upgrade To Non-Historic Areas

CREATED Jun 26, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Officials have announced a $14 million dollar expansion project at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The expansion will include a cafe, larger retail area and improvements to the ticketing and restroom areas.

The expansion and upgrade was announced for the non-historic parts of the building on the side facing 4th Avenue North.

Announced plans include a completely reconfigured lobby, external box office, special events area, a café, more retails space and better restroom accessibility.

A state-of-the-art tour experience has also been planned for daytime visitors. During the evening hours, the space will host special events.

Ryman Hospitality Properties CEO and President Colin Reed made the announcement Thursday. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam was also on hand, along with Opry members Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs.

The last major overhaul at the Ryman happened in 1994. Reed said Music City has evolved since then.

“Twenty years have passed since that overhaul, and Nashville has evolved as a city quite unlike anyone could have predicted back then,” said Reed. “As the owners of some of the most important assets in this city, it’s our job to ensure we provide to our customers what they’re seeking – as well as predicting what demand will look like years out.”

Reed said the Ryman has been emotionally connected to the Nashville community and country music industry in a very unique way.

“If you could package and sell this brand, I believe there would be thousands of cities clamoring for what we have,” said Reed. “We believe that Nashville is at the early stages of this rise.”

Reed said the non-historic part of the building no longer met the expectations of their visitors, and Ryman owners believe despite the growth of the region, Nashville has yet to max out on its potential.

“Today’s announcement is not just an investment in the city’s most recognizable icon, but recognition of Nashville’s future potential for tourism and the steps we’re taking to prepare for it,” he said.

Governor Haslam said the best way to drive revenue in the state is through tourism. 

“Tourism helps drive our state… it helps pay the bills. Tourism is our second largest industry,” said Governor Haslam. “As a sales tax driven state, if we want more money for education or fund better social programs or any of the other things we’re trying to do – it really means bringing in more sales tax dollars.”

Haslam said the Ryman was a place unlike any other that people travel to see. The governor talked about his recent trip to Asia, where a group of business members in Korea talked about visiting Nashville to see the Ryman Auditorium. 

“To be a state that’s a leading spot for tourism, it makes a difference to have unique spots. If you talk about unique spots in Tennessee, it’s hard to find one that’s more unique than this from a historical or entertainment point of view,” he said. 

The project will break ground in late summer 2014 and is expected to be completed in time for the 2015 CMA Music Fest. The Ryman will remain open during construction.