NQC 2014: The Permanent Seat Question

One bonus for people who attend the National Quartet Convention annually is the ability to lock in permanent seat assignments. If you buy a three-night or six night package, you can renew it the following year. This is great. I met several wonderful individuals who have permanent seats next to mine in Louisville, and I look forward to seeing them every year. I’m glad I’m going back for the final year in Louisville, because it may be the last time I get to see them.

The general question about whether the permanent seat program would continue in 2014 was addressed by NQC several months ago:
“When you purchase your seats for the 2013 NQC, you will have seats reserved in a comparable location in the Leconte Center for 2014. You can purchase and try to upgrade those seats at the 2013 NQC or wait for the invoice and pay by the end of February of 2014.” – (SOURCE)

On Monday, permanent seat holders who had an email address associated with their account received an invoice and a link to a seating chart showing their new seat assignments for 2014. I received one for a pair of seats I purchased earlier this year for some friends, but not for the seat I have held for approximately 15 years that is 5 rows from the stage in Louisville. After contacting iTickets (NQC’s ticket processing company), they were able to look it up and send me the seat assignment for that seat as well.

When I saw the new assignment, one thing baffled me. I’m on the same row every night in Louisville, and even in the same seat two of those nights, yet I was assigned seats that ranged from 8 to 16 rows back for the three nights in Pigeon Forge. I’m not sure how that qualifies as “comparable.” I didn’t expect to be within five rows necessarily, but I expected the seats to be consistent since my 2013 seats are virtually in the same spot every night.

I called again and was able to speak with the same rep. She did not have an answer for my question, but explained that she could upgrade my seats. I said OK. Two of those seats are going to be closer than my Louisville seats. Yay, me!

Well, sort of…

Usually, when I renew my permanent seat, I’m not required to pay until February. My options this year were to either take the seats I was assigned (which were definitely not “comparable” to the Louisville seats), or pay six months earlier than usual for the upgrade. I paid.

I sent an email to Clarke Beasley questioning this policy, and while he didn’t really get into the wheres and whys in his reply, he did raise one very important point that permanent seat holders should consider:
Even if you pay right now, there is no risk, because they are offering refunds through the month of July.

If you are currently a permanent seat holder and plan to attend NQC in 2014, I would urge you to call them as soon as possible at 800-846-8499. Select extension 1. Many of you may have never provided NQC with an email address associated with your permanent seat purchase, so you won’t have received a notification. 2014 seats go on sale September 9, but current permanent seat holders may be able to upgrade your location as long as you don’t mind paying now.

A few hours ago, I sent out a request for comments to other permanent seat holders. Some are happy and some are not. Here are a few of the responses:
1. “I got seats closer but at an angle.” (This comment was accompanied by a frown face icon.)
2. “I have a row Q, a row J & a row B. My previous seats were 5 rows up, 3 rows up and 2 rows up from the floor. Since this new venue is all on the floor…….??? Who knows??? I seriously don’t think I will be going after this year. Hate the thought, but the new venue all on one level doesn’t look appealing to me.”
3. “I got an e-mail that told me which seat numbers I have and then I looked at the seating chart. Yes, mine are pretty comparable. I’m very satisfied with the assignments.”
4. “We received our new assignments via email. The bottom of the email contained a link to the NQC seating plan. Some of the assignments were better than Louisville and some worse. I made a phone call to pay for next year and try to get some of the seats changed. Within a short period of time I was able to change 3 of the nights to better seats. We’re a little disappointed that we are in different seats each night, however, most of our seats are closer than we were in Louisville. The furthest back is row K. We will have to see how good that is when we get there.”
5. “I got my e-mail yesterday and mine seems pretty similar to what i have in Louisville!!!”
6. “My opinion: the new system is awful so far. This year (2013) will be our 17th NQC. Every year we have gone over early on Monday morning at NQC, in the dark many years, standing in line waiting for the doors to open to try to upgrade our tickets. We really like the seats we have for all 6 nights. You know where we are for 3 of them. The other 3 nights we are 7 and 9 rows, respectively, higher than Mon-Wed. We do not have aisle seats. Wow, what a disappointment when we received our email. In 2014, the first 3 nights are okay, but Thurs-Sat they have placed us anywhere from 25 to 27 rows back.”
7. “Our seats are different all three nights and instead of being in row H, we are in rows X and Y. They said if we want to give up our aisle seats they can move us forward. We are thinking about it but probably will not go anymore.”

Feel free to add you own comments at the end of this article.

Finally, here is the 2014 seating chart. A couple of other seating charts for the Pigeon Forge venue are floating around the internet, but this is the one NQC will be using in 2014.

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. In addition to MusicScribe, David is the owner/editor of SGHistory.com and the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music. He plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet, the Foothills Choir and when his schedule permits, the Pine Ridge Boys.

  1. Here is the full message I sent to David yesterday. I thought some might be interested in seeing it:


    Thanks for your e-mail. One important thing to keep in mind is that there
    are substantially fewer sections in the LeConte Center plan, and there are
    no floor, mezzanine, balcony designations in these new sections. Moving
    season reservations into a plan that is so different is an inexact science
    that is very subjective. However, I am confident that in evaluating pure
    distance from the stage, the vast majority of people received at least as
    good if not better seats than they currently have. One thing we were very
    diligent about is maintaining aisle seats for those who had them, which
    was not easy when there are fewer aisle seats.

    Knowing that one person’s good judgment is another person’s terrible
    judgment, we sent these confirmations in advance of the show to give our
    season customers the chance to alter their reservations for next year in
    advance of the event so they could avoid long lines at the Convention. We
    really tried to go the extra mile in customer service in this regard. The
    requirement to pay for the seats that are being moved insures that we are
    only altering season reservations for customers who are serious about
    attending the following year. We have actually had this requirement in
    place for several years, and it is really no risk for the customer because
    we offer refunds through the end of July.

    I hope this answers your questions, and please free to ask any other
    questions you might have.


    • So far, from the comments I’ve received, it appears about half of the people feel they got comparable seat assignments initially…far short of a vast majority, but of course, my sample is far from scientific.

      I’m mostly baffled as to why I was able to upgrade from Row H, L and P on Mon-Wed to Row B, D and G for the same three nights less than 24 hours after the seat assignments were issued.

      Why would ANY seats on Row B be open if seat assignments were truly made to give permanent seat holders the best seats available? Those should have all been assigned to someone already.

      I’m very happy that I got one, of course. I just don’t understand the logic….

      …except maybe you wanted to make it possible for anyone who called in to upgrade with the requirement that they pay now rather than waiting until February. If 1000 people do that for three nights, it’s another $93000 in the bank in September 2013 rather than February 2014.

      As you mentioned, though, the refund option allows people to back out as late as July. Even if they pay now, they can get their money back if they change their minds. That IS great customer service. I’ve never seen another concert promoter offer a deal like that on an event of this scale. All sales are typically final. I do applaud you for making that choice to give people flexibility.

  2. I just called. Even though I get the NQC Award ballots via e-mail, they said that no e-mail address was associated with my account. I gave it to the person to whom I was speaking, and she said that she would “forward it to management.” She said that my seats for 2014 had not been assigned yet and were listed as “stock”.

    She said that I should receive an e-mail by 3 PM today with my assignment, and if I didn’t to call back. That doesn’t sound promising for me getting good seats, since it appears from reading the comments above that many of the best seats are already taken.

    • It appears there are 14 seats on those rows in Section 109 Left, Lenore. Notice in the diagram where it indicates seat numbers are 17-30.

  3. It’s not my issue as I never have had permanent seats but it would seem to me that the majority of the seats (even if you are the same distance from the stage) will be worse if the floor is completely flat. Most theatres I go to have some type of rise on the floor as one moves further from the stage. Looking at the map I can’t imagine what the view would be like from say DD (which I assume is 30 rows back let alone MM or SS. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the layout because, if not, it seems strange to move to such a facility for such a large crowd.

    • Norm,
      I expect they will have video screens as they do in Louisville, but I agree that flat floor seating is not ideal in a room that big.

  4. I received my 2014 ticket location this week and after looking at the seating chart the tickets aren’t ina suitable location. I have been a permanent seat holder for 15+ years. I called the nqc number and was told the only way they could look and see if any better seats were available I would have to pay for my 2014 now and if there weren’t any available I couldn’t cancel till July 30,2014. That sounds a little ridiculous too me. I still would like to get better seats. My seats are in section 116 row M-1,2,3; row I-19,20,21; row H-13,14,15.

  5. This year 2013 will be my 20th year attending NQC and it took me 11 years to get our permanent seats. Our new seat assingments are near the back in v, y,l o which are not near comparable.

  6. After sending e-mails about our seat assignments I never heard back. NQC said I would hear something. This morning I decided to call I-tickets spoke to a lady think Helen was her name and she took down all my information and she said someone would be in touch within 48 hours. A couple hours later I received the call and got our seat assignments. Same seat all three nights. They were supposed to send me an e-mail but haven’t received the e-mail yet. Will probably keep the seats for 2014 and see how it is before making a decision for 2015. We are in section 104 which is a small wedge section. (At least close to bath room) Don’t know how close that will be to the ice cream. We are having ice cream aren’t we?

  7. We have had permanent seats for the 20 years NQc has been in Louisville. Our seats for 2014 are comparable for Mon-Wed (although we will not really know until we are there)…for Thurs-Sat, not at all comparable. We did upgrade the last 3 nights, but only because of the refund options. 2 major concerns for us are the added distance and the flat-floor seating (Being the major consideration) . We have not decided yet as to whether or not we will go, but are definitely leaning to staying home. I find it hard to conceive of booking a facility without actually seeing it completed, checking accoustics, seating arrangements etc.

    • Ruth,
      I’m not so concerned about the building not being completed. Just about any room that seats more than 10,000 people is going to have terrible acoustics, and if the architects did their job, they already know the seating plan.

      My primary concerns are the flat floor seating and the logistics of getting to and from the venue.

      The stage looks rather small compared to the one in Louisville, also, so I’m wondering how they’re going to handle showcases where a lot of artists are on stage (Gaither, etc.) and I’m always curious about things like where they’re going to put the piano and drums, video cameras and so forth.

      Also, I’m wondering if the stage is going to be even smaller if they put a ring of chairs around the stage the way they do in Louisville, or will it spill out against the front row. Or, will they not have that “artist circle” in Pigeon Forge, and if so, how will they get artists on and off the stage efficiently?

  8. I have no Idea how my seats will be or if I will eventually want to change them. What I do know is that I am thrilled that God has given me the ability to see and hear and walk. I also know that I will no longer spend part of my time in fear that an elderly person is going to fall down those steep steps. I have seen some close calls through the years. I am happy that I get to spend this time with my family and we are blessed with the testimonies of the artists. I also know that the board/administration of NQC works themselves to death to make this a wonderful event for us every year. The Leconte Center is beautiful from the pictures and I can not wait to be a part of attending NQC at this brand new facility.

    • NQC will be the week of September 21-27 in Pigeon Forge 2014.

      In 2015, I believe it starts on September 27 and runs into the first few days of October.

  9. Would like two tickets for 2014 in sections 101,105 109 or 113. as close to the front as possible. How do I go about paying for the tickets?


    • Charles,
      You would need to contact NQC directly. We certainly can’t sell you a ticket ourselves.

      Their website is nqconline.com

  10. i need handicap seats for 2014 i sure hope they are good or better than louisville because handicaps were up in peanut heaven

  11. I have been coming to the NQC each year. I signed up for the 2014 NQC at Pigeon Forge & was given seats in W section (107-111). I had asked for lower seating arrangements. Can you help me?

  12. Those interested in purchasing 2014 tickets need to go to the NQC website and contact them using the information provided. http://www.nqconline.com

    This information has already been provided in comments above.

    There’s an 800 number there and everything! They are already selling 2014 seats to the general public for those attending the 2013 event in Louisville, so they should be selling them by phone as well very soon (if they aren’t already).

  13. I called today and the lady I spoke to said to call back on Tuesday for sale if 2014 tickets. I need 4 for 6 nights.

  14. Was thinking about going to the 2014 NQC, since it will be closer for me to go from Ga. Not sure now, with all these NOT TOO GOOD of comments. All seats flat on the floor don’t sound good at all, for your view and I can watch that stuff at home and not waste money to go to a huge place and watch it on a SCREEN! LOL!! Will the stage ROTATE? Nothing sounds too appealing about it, even though I just LOVE southern gospel music and seeing them live. Smaller places with just a few singers is what I do and will more than likely continue doing that. Can’t afford too many big trips, anyways.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: