NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The iconic Grand Ole Opry House in Tennessee’s capital city will undergo a $12 million expansion to add parking, larger retail space and an enhanced area for backstage tours.
The updates are aimed at improving the fan experience outside of shows as the performance hall is not part of the plan, The Tennessean reported Monday. A similar $14 million project to expand and renovate the Ryman Auditorium gave Ryman Hospitality confidence for renovations at the Opry House, Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed said.
The retail and parking spaces will be developed to accommodate a steady flow of fans and should be done by October 2018. The addition of 1,300 parking spots on a paved lot will replace unused land.
Details on a VIP lounge for backstage tours are still being finalized. The box office will be relocated so that Ryman-owned food trucks can also be brought in.
Centric Architecture is designing the project that will be built by RC Mathews, and Ryman Hospitality hopes it is completed by January 2019.
Over the last several years, Ryman Hospitality has spent more than $130 million toward Nashville’s country music tourism industry.
Attendance reached 650,000 in 2016 at the Opry House, 150,000 more than in 2012. Tours attendance rose by 100,000 during the same period of time.