Groundbreaking held for Ryman Auditorium expansion

This time next year the Mother Church of Country Music will have a slightly new look after undergoing a mild makeover.

The historic Ryman Auditorium marked the first day of that transformation with an expansion project groundbreaking Wednesday morning.

The event kicked-off with the symbolic temporary removal of the Tom Ryman statue on 5th Avenue North. Ryman is the founder of the legendary auditorium, which is best known for being the former home of the Grand Ole Opry.

The $14 million expansion includes new event space, a state-of-the-art daytime tour attraction, a café, larger retail area, additional restroom facilities, larger lobbies and an expanded box office.

Officials said the goal of the expansion is to make access for visitors to the entire building much easier.

The expansion project is scheduled for completion in June 2015, just in time for the annual CMA Music Festival.

Officials said the Ryman Auditorium itself will not be altered and will continue to keep a full calendar of events and tours throughout construction.

Nashville-based architects and general contractors on the expansion are Hastings Architectures and R.C. Mathews Contractor.

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