Ruth Eckerd Hall's near perfect acoustics have received rave reviews from artists, technicians and audience members since opening in 1983. Combined with state of the art equipment, comfortable amenities and world class entertainment, it's no wonder that it has been recognized as one of Tampa Bay's best concert halls numerous times as well as a finalist for Pollstar's Theater of the Year twice. In 2003, the Hall's audience chamber received a complete refurbishment, its 2,180 seats were reconfigured to accommodate more patrons with disabilities, and lobby and restrooms were expanded. Ruth Eckerd Hall has continental-style seating. Almost every patron prizes a center seat and continental-style provides the maximum possible. There are no support columns, no obstructed views. Seating is sloped and staggered. For safety and comfort, the aisle space is wider than traditional layouts; entry and exit can be made while patrons remain seated. There are 14 sets of double doors leading out from the audience chamber. With this configuration, a full house can be cleared in a matter of minutes. Among the original community leaders who conceptualized building a performing arts center this side of Tampa Bay, was Jack Eckerd. During construction, Mr. Eckerd designated a significant contribution as a birthday gift to his beloved wife, Ruth, making the dream a reality. The Hall proudly bears her name.