Grand Ole Opry & Ryman Auditorium to Sell Naming Rights

October 22, 2012 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments

That’s right ladies and gentleman, you want to go see a show at the Wal-Mart Ryman, or maybe at the Grand Ole International House of Pancakes? Well that’s exactly what country fans could be facing in the future now that Ryman Hospitality (previously Gaylord Entertainment) has partnered with Creative Artists Agency to attempt to sell their naming rights, Billboard reports.

Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, your most coveted country music institutions are now officially whoring themselves.

The deal encompassing “title sponsorships, on-site branding, and national marketing partnerships” between Creative Artists Agency, and both The Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium could for the first time make these historic institutions and the programs they house a suffix after nationally-recognized sales brands.

Creative Artists Agency has also reached a deal with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to sell their naming rights, but as a non-profit, the Rock Hall could only use a corporate brand at the end of their current name, like “presented by” or “sponsored by.” But as for-profit institutions, the Ryman and Grand Ole Opry are free game to do whatever they want.

And if you’re not too worried about the news because the Opry could partner with some cool, local Nashville company, think again. The reason for the naming rights sale is not just the money that could be generated from the sponsorship, but to supposedly increase brand awareness for it on a national level, meaning only huge, nationally-recognized brands need apply.

Though the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation and the Grand Ole Opry Group have partnered with sponsors at a regional and national level in the past, both organizations are looking to expand their reach. “They rely on attendance, and a good partner could help them promote and align with what they’re doing in the long term as well as put more people in seats,” says Tom Worcester, head of CAA’s music sponsorships group.

Gaylord Entertainment, the longtime owner of The Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium was sold to Marriott International earlier this year, and has since restructured from an entertainment company into a REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, and changed their name to Ryman Hospitality.

Gaylord’s two biggest investors opposed the restructuring, with one having to be bought out to go along with the deal, and the second opposing the deal specifically requesting the Grand Ole Opry assets be spun off from the company as part of the sale, believing they would prosper better as an autonomous unit as opposed to being managed in a real estate and hospitality structure. The deal also destroyed a partnership with Dolly Parton to build an water/winter amusement park in Nashville.

This naming rights sale, and the induction of Darius Rucker as a Grand Ole Opry member could be just the beginning of the changes we see from the Grand Ole Opry as the new parent company attempts to market the brand for maximum profitability.

Don’t Give Up on The Grand Ole Opry – Fight For It

11 Comments to “Grand Ole Opry & Ryman Auditorium to Sell Naming Rights”

  • This is reflective of the current condition of Nashville as a center of country (pop) music.

    I am a Tennesseean and I go to (or through) Nasvhille a good bit, but I usually look to Texas for good country music.

    I listen to some indepent label Nashville-area artists who perform, without 18 wheelers hauling around tons of stage props and equipment with without pyrotechnical displays in arenas and stadiums, for the love of music.

    This really disgusts me.


  • I don’t give a shit what they call the Grand Ole Opry. I’m surprised that didn’t happen years ago. Now the Ryman on the other hand, that’s tragic and make me sad.


  • Given that WSM (and the Opry that followed) was originally founded as a vehicle for selling insurance, I’m not that upset about naming rights for the Opry. As Tom said, though, leave the Ryman alone.


    • No doubt that WSM, the Opry, and many other old school country entities owed their lifeblood to advertisers in the past, and Cracker Barrel and others have worked with the Opry recently without much intrusion. The difference here is, just like football and baseball stadiums, the Ryman Auditorium could be called, “The Cracker Barrel Theater”.


  • It was to be expected. It is ashamed about the Ryman. Honestly, the jury is still out. Will this change things anymore for the worse than things have already been heading, only time will tell? I’m blessed to live in an area were good independent music thrives and prospers. I feel genuinely sorry for folks that do not have that in their parts of the country. The best shot was the hall of fame controling the Opry as a non profit concern. That did not happen the votes have been cast i’m afraid. Like most times we did not get to vote.


  • Sad. Nothing more depressing than, “Make some noise, Gillette Stadium!”


  • That just really blows that they would even consider such a thing for a historic show like the Opry or place like The Ryman! If they go through with it, that will make Gaylord the biggest pimp daddy in Nashville! Good grief.

    On the other hand, if the sponsors turned out to be Martha White or Goo Goo Clusters, that wouldn’t be quite so bad. (jk)


  • doesnt really bother me since the opry has a history of being branded and it really doesnt matter (to me) what name they add to the ryman in print so long as the exterior of the building isnt touched. im hoping they have some preservation laws in nashville that would protect the ryman exterior from being branded.


  • The only way I can describe how I feel about the this (esp about the Ryman) is to liken it to seeing my great-grandparent’s home that my grandpap & Pap built with their own hands 50+ years ago torn down last month. Things went to hell in Country Music a long time ago, but just when you think it couldn’t be worse, it’s worse. This is ridiculous! I know Emmylou helped save the Ryman before, maybe the greats like George & Loretta and “newer” good ones like Alan, George Strait, Josh Turner, etc etc can ban together and buy the rights? I certainly wish I could do it : (


  • Even Jerry Jones has the good sense (so far) not to sell the naming rights to something many hold dear. That’s the only thing I can say that’s positive about that greedy old s.o.b. is that he never sold the naming rights to Texas Stadium, and has so far refrained from doing so for Cowboys Stadium.

    It’s sad when the Opry and Ryman’s current ownership has stooped BELOW his level. Next thing you know they’ll put a Victoria’s Secret store in just like Jerry did at Cowboys Stadium.

    Crap, now I just gave them another idea…


  • It’s a shame…. I bet Acuff is rolling in his grave at what all has happened since he passed… It used to be an awsome place…..


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