The Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium just upped their security. The two storied venues have added metal detectors and bag checks, among other new measures.
Both venues bring in thousands of visitors on a nightly basis. Up until this week, anybody heading to a show at the Opry or Ryman simply had to let an attendant look inside their bag. Now, security lines require procedures similar to larger venues, like the nearby Bridgestone Arena.
But Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher assured people the new measures don't stem from any recent threats. "Using metal detectors as our screening procedure is something we have been pursuing for nearly a year and it isn't a reaction to any direct threat to the venues or the performers," Fisher told Music Row.
And yet, recent world events certainly factored into the decision. "Certainly we have been mindful of the events going on in the world and the unfortunate stories that have come out of Florida and elsewhere," he continues. "The safety and security of our employees and customers and performers is always top priority so we are constantly evaluating the practices we need to make sure we are aligned to industry standards, but also to the emerging threats that are out there."
The venue wants stricter guidelines for performers, too. Security will screen artists and their guests entering backstage, too. They'll also get photo IDs for immediate identification.
And of course, security will have wands or other forms of inspection for those who can't go through the detectors.
The biggest goal is keeping people safe. But, as Fisher notes, the Ryman and Opry are unlike any venue in the world. Part of that is their long, storied history. And it's also because of the friendly, intimate environment. So management wants to be mindful of maintaining that vibe.
Ultimately, the move makes sense. Leaving the house a few minutes early to make it through security is just part of life. Especially since the 9/11 terror attacks. A lot of high schools implemented metal detectors after the Columbine shooting, too.
But ironically, the sight of increased security measures may make people feel less safe. It's that whole "catch 22." Seeing security reminds people of recent attacks.
And still, it's important to remember one thing. Despite what you see on the news, the world has historically never been a safer place to live. So don't let the sight of increased security deter you from visiting two of the world's most iconic musical experiences. The Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry are worth the new security lines.