Besides warning folks about potential scams lurking on web sites across Canada, Vancouver 2010 organizers have been dealing with a raft of related issues.
One balancing act they’ve had to manage is that of trying to satisfy sports and community groups. When it comes to curling, for example, Canadians (we don’t know why, but that’s another story) seem eager to line up and spend perfectly good money to sit through hours of curling matches at the new arena being built near Nat Bailey Stadium, south of downtown.
VANOC probably could sell out a 10,000 seat stadium or even BC Place, where the BC Lions of the CFL play. But they promised the community around Nat Bailey that they wouldn’t be saddled with a white elephant and that the building left behind after the Games will be suitably-sized.
In other words, it’s supposed to be a community centre, not the Rogers Centre.
“There’s no question the curling people would like more seats, but we’ll have 5,000-6,000 and we have three sessions a day,” said VANOC executive vice president Dave Cobb. “We’re very fortunate because the big venues we have are for our most popular sports, like hockey and figure skating,” he said. “One of the issues in Turin at the 2006 Games was they had a big hockey arena, but hockey isn’t that popular there.”
On a related matter, organizers say they’re not worried about Canadians turning up their noses at sports like biathlon or Nordic combined when tickets go on sale Oct. 3 on the Internet.
“For Canadians, the experience is the most important thing,” said vice president of ticketing and consumer marketing Caley Denton, who just might be getting a lot more “How are ya, Caley” phone calls on Oct. 2 of this year than he has in previous years.
“Part of the fun is getting on a bus with 30 Finnish people to go to the ski jumping.”
The ski jump venue, for the record, will hold 10,000-12,000 people. Vancouver officials say they might sell out every ticket for the 2010 Games.
NOT ALBERTA BOUND
Vancouver organizers say the biggest demand for 2010 tickets will come, naturally, from British Columbians. They expected the next biggest province for ticket demand would be Alberta, being next door and all. Instead, they say, Ontario residents have indicated the most interest in buying tickets.
However many are bought by Newfoundlanders or Saskatchewanians (Saskatchewanites? Saskatchewantonians?), you can bet that the Oct. 3 day for ticket sales will result in a crushing demand on Vancouver’s web servers.
How’d you like to be the tech support guy on call at VANOC’s office that day?
The cabbies here are as friendly as all get out. They all wear official uniforms with ties and yellow shirts. But how is it they don’t know their way around town?
I understand my Mandarin is worse than their English, but “Grand Hyatt Hotel” doesn’t sound like a landmark that’s easy to miss, especially when you’re pointing at it on a map that has Chinese lettering on it. Nonetheless, my morning cab to the Hyatt on Friday dropped me off four blocks away. No damage, and only a few dollars for a 20-minute cab ride.
On the way back, another cabby was shown another map with Chinese writing for the media village I was going to. The name of the village was there, and the name of the street. It’s clearly on Beichen Road East, not Beichen Road West.
But, sure enough, the cab pulled over to drop me off on Beichen Road West, right in front of the Main Press Centre and not at the media village where we lay down our heads at night. He kept trying to turn right into the Olympic Green, which was clearly closed by barricades and patrolling policemen. Finally, I convinced him with hand gestures to admit defeat and retreat all the way south to the Fourth Ring Road, then zip along below the Olympic Green to Beichen Road East, or a road near to it.
The traffic was so bad I had to get out and walk four blocks, but that’s not his fault. Still gave him a good tip, not a common thing in China. But, boy, can’t someone get these guys a traffic report or a good map and a listing of road closures or something?
Hard to believe, but a friend from Vancouver tells me he went to an International Olympic Committee function on Friday and part of the deal was an art auction. He claims someone was trying to start the price of an oil painting of former IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch at $388,000.
That’s even more than a Ted Rogers ducat for a Bills exhibition game, we think, and it seems a little high even for a man of Samaranch’s reputation.
Apparently, the auction was cancelled after nobody opened with a high enough bid.