The third tier (fourth level) was hardest hit, with increases in some instances of more than 300%. There were only marginal price increases, of generally 10% or less, for most other seats in Benaroya Hall, according to the paper.
During the current season, a subscription for third tier seats at the 18 concerts of the SSO Masterpiece Series costs $279 for Thursday nights and $387 for Saturday nights, significantly less than all other seats in the house except for partial view orchestra seats.
Starting next season, all third tier (fourth level) seats will cost $999 for new subscribers. These seats will be the third-most-expensive seats in the house, nearly $300 more than the third level and the same as some seats on the second level.
The Post-Intelligencer has been contacted by some of the disgruntled among the 1,900 people who sit in those now-more-expensive seats.
Mary Ann Champion, the orchestra's interim executive director, told the paper that the third tier was "targeted" for the 2007-08 season because officials believed it was under-priced. There have been only minimal ticket increases in that section since the orchestra moved to Benaroya Hall in 1998, while all other sections underwent increases of up to 200%.
Seattle Symphony officials told the Post-Intelligencer that rows of empty seats inspire a negative feeling — and offering an economical way for people from the third tier to move down is one way of addressing the issue.
When the SSO moved to Benaroya Hall from the Opera House (now rebuilt and renamed McCaw Hall), ticket prices were reportedly raised by as much as 30%; Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet also substantially upped ticket prices when they took up residence in the renovated McCaw Hall in 2003.