St. Petersburg, Florida - At the Mahaffey Theater the show must go on and starting Friday, you'll be able to see that show without paying a ticket surcharge. Typically, that's been about $9 either online or at the box office.
"This is going to be a great way to fill the theater and make great entertainment affordable with no hidden charges," said Bill Edwards at a Thursday morning news conference. Edwards is CEO of Big3 Entertainment, the company that manages the Mahaffey for the city of St. Petersburg.
Those extra convenience fees do add up and consumers don't like them. When asked if there's anything in the ticket-buying process that annoys her, a woman on a downtown Tampa sidewalk quickly answered, "That you pay too much in service fees."
So will other venues follow suit? The Straz Center in Tampa had no comment and over at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall, don't expect any changes. But Ruth Eckerd's Chief Marketing Officer is quick to point out that there are no fees at the hall's box office and Eric Blankenship also says that consumers don't make choices strictly on price.
"Price isn't the determining factor if someone comes to your venue for a show, more times than not, it's value," he says.
Of course Mahaffey could make up for the loss of fees by just raising the initial ticket price, but Edwards says they're not going to do that. He expects a pay off in better attendance by people attracted by the price break.
"We're going to continue pricing our tickets the same way we always have," says Edwards, "So you just got a cheaper ticket."
Since Edwards' company began managing the Mahaffey, the theater has seen a boost in numbers, with about 50,000 more people attending events there than the year before.