London looks pretty good on TV ... except for all those empty seats. Shame!
Back in the old days, cities awarded the Olympic Games would pretty much have to start from scratch. The smart ones would make a few calls and study things in other cities, but they had to do a lot on their own.
These days, however, the International Olympic Committee has a knowledge sharing service so cities taking on the massive job of staging a multi-billion dollar enterprise can rely on experts who've made all these decisions before and lived to tell the tales of too few bathrooms or too little practice space or what have you.
So why in the name of Queen Elizabeth II do we have so many empty seats at the Olympic arenas? I turned on some events on the weekend and it looked like the 500 level of the Rogers Centre during a Buffalo Bills exhibition game. Awful. We had this problem - big time - in Beijing. And they managed to fill the seats. So what's wrong in London?
Part of the problem is so many tickets are gobbled up by sponsors; about eight per cent. Sponsors are pretty high falutin' people so they probably turn up their noses at rhythmic gymnastic preliminaries. But there are tons of Londoners who would PAY for those seats.
So why do sponsors get that many? And why aren't these brilliantly run companies who are able to invest millions and millions of dollars in sponsorships able to figure out how to get some bums in the seats? Are volunteers really that hard to find? It's the age of social media, people. Can't Company X put something out on Twitter or something? Or at least line up some folks in advance and say we MIGHT have 400 seats available, put your names on this list and give us your email/instant message address and we''ll get back to you? Is it that hard, people?
Some of these seats, alas, belong to the media. That's a tricky one. Not to be defensive, but I can see where that could be an issue. In all likelihood, the IOC is putting aside too many media seats for the less glamorous events. They know all of us media types are going to want to cover Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps (you remember, him, right?) and Usain Bolt and beach volleyball (and isn't it ridiculous that the women can't wear long sleeves unless the temperature drops to something like 16 degrees Celsius?). That's fine. But surely the IOC and the local organizers by now know that preliminary fencing isn't to bring in hordes of journos.
Too bad, because the city looks pretty good on TV. I think any network that invests as much money as CTV/TSN/etc... or NBC is going to want to make things look good for the folks back home. They could probably make Mimico look like Paris if they sent in their best video guys. Still, London looks fine and dandy and majestic and cool, even with the rain.
Let's hope they can get past the ticket issues and get back to business....