The Mahaffey Theater is eliminating ticket fees, effective today, in an effort to boost sales.
The move, announced Thursday, means people will only pay the price of their tickets, if they buy them from the box office or from the theater, online or by telephone. Fees typically ranged from about $3 to $12.50. People ordering through Ticketmaster will still pay fees.
"I subscribe to truth in advertising and full disclosure," said Bill Edwards, whose company, the Bill Edwards Group, took over management of the city-owned venue in 2011. "The advertised price should be what the community pays."
The move makes the Mahaffey the only venue of its size in the Tampa Bay area that doesn't charge more than face value for tickets. Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater does not charge additional fees on tickets purchased at the box office but does on those bought online or over the phone.
There are no estimates of how reducing ticket prices might impact ticket sales, but touring acts might look more favorably on the Mahaffey for its more affordable prices, said Joe Santiago, the venue's general manager.
"We think it's a pretty strong industry position when we can tell artists and managers and agents that we've eliminated convenience fees from our shows," he said. "That's a very positive thing because the artists are always looking out for the best interest of their fans."
Ticket sales have already increased by 50,000 since the Edwards Group took over the Mahaffey, Santiago said.
The Mahaffey's new lower ticket prices came as good news to Maureen St. Guillen and Patty Gamache, both snowbirds from New England who were purchasing tickets to Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, which is at the Mahaffey now.
"Absolutely," said St. Guillen. "Any time you can save money. Especially being snowbirds. We're on a limited budget."
The Mahaffey won't be raising ticket prices to offset the lost surcharge fees, said Edwards. But he expects a return on the investment.
"It's a gamble, let's face it," he said. "It's a gamble to get people to come here. I think they will because it will be affordable."