Opening and closing pageants, figure skating finals and the hockey medal round; those are easy sells. Hockey tickets for Germany vs Belarus or for sports such as skeleton, curling, biathlon, synchronized snow boarding; not so easy. And, empty seats don’t look good on television.
During a radio interview, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie offered a clue as to who will accompany him to Olympic events that don’t have main stage appeal.
The city has invested in a lot of tickets and we’re in the process of giving them away and working with various community groups to spread those tickets around the community.
Richmond spent $200,000 on tickets and City of Vancouver $340,000. Other municipal governments are helping out too. Thank you, Mr. & Ms. Property Taxpayer.
September 11 story updated September 22, 2009:
NDP MLA and energy critic John Horgan says that while funding cuts are being finalized to school sports and other programs, BC Hydro is buying Olympic tickets “so some fat cats can sit in a luxury box watching hockey games.”
Horgan revealed that BC Hydro is spending $264,000 to book a 30-seat box suite for 33 ice hockey events at GM Place in Vancouver during the 2010 Games in February. It is buying other Olympic tickets as well for a total of $616,000.
ICBC and the BC Lottery Corporation also acquired games tickets. The three crown agencies admit to spending $1.4 million collectively.
VANOC has been asked to reveal total ticket purchases by government and government agencies. The number, if ever revealed, together with federal agency and municipal government purchases, may shock critics of the Olympics.
This can also have an unintended consequence. A number of years ago, so many free BC Lions football tickets were kicking around town that walk-up sales became negligible. If VANOC encourages or enables papering of the house, regular ticket sales will stall.
Observers might remember that, during Expo86, senior government officials from across Canada discovered pressing reasons to visit Vancouver during the world’s fair. So, in addition to tickets, the public will pay for travel costs too. And, when these folks travel, $1,200 a day is a frugal excursion.
It's better than them being handed out free to Vancouver execs. Hopefully some underprivileged kids whose schools will fall apart over the next year can see some games they otherwise wouldn't.
Filled with effort or not filled at all, the games will cost taxpayers the same (tickets paid for will drop the cost a small amount though), so at least this gives some upside.