It was a given that ticket demand for an event like the Olympic Winter Games, which begin February 12 in Vancouver, would be high and that the demand inevitably would spill over to the secondary market.
With that in mind, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) took preemptive action to have some control over the secondary market by launching their own fan-to-fan ticket marketplace in December.
Despite VANOC’s efforts, tickets remain readily available on the secondary market, even after an alleged major case of fraud involving a U.S. supplier gave the broker industry pause this week.
VANOC deputy CEO Dave Cobb told the Seattle Times recently that any Olympic officials who scalp their tickets will have their tickets canceled “with one push of the button.” VANOC monitors such action through ghost purchases.
But that has not stopped the flow of Olympics tickets to the secondary market. “It’s always been a joke,” responded sports travels company owner Don Dow in the Seattle Times. “They put threats out there and everyone in the event world says, ‘Whatever.’ ”
Bob Bernstein, CEO of Arizona-based eSeats.com, who had to tell customers he couldn’t deliver on Olympic tickets because of the aforementioned alleged fraud case that victimized supplier Action Seating, told the Vancouver Sun that VANOC’s ineffective marketplace has led to a boon on the secondary market. “It’s very difficult to pick and choose and get the seats you want from VANOC,” he said. “That is why there is such an active secondary market for Vancouver Olympic tickets.”
RazorGator is offering Winter Game tickets, including tickets for the opening ceremony, which are going for between $728 and $1,728. ShowTimeTickets.com in Toronto is offering opening ceremony tickets for between $1,095 and $1,299. Both sites and others, including GoTickets.com, have a number of tickets to a variety of events available still.
VANOC filed a lawsuit against a Winnipeg, Manitoba, company Roadtrips to stop it from selling the tickets, and to force Roadtrips to identify its ticket source. Roadtrips owner Dave Guenther accused VANOC of trying to protect the monopoly of its authorized Olympic ticket sellers. The lawsuit was recently settled, with VANOC giving Guenther an undisclosed amount of authorized tickets to sell.
VANOC has estimated that of the 1.2 million Olympic tickets made available to the public, 10 percent will be resold, and it touts its secondary Web site as the officially sanctioned secondary marketplace. The committee takes a 10 percent service fee off the sale of the tickets, and a new ticket with a new bar code is issued to the purchaser at the “Will Call” window. Owners of the invalidated tickets are expected to destroy them, but many worry that these tickets will end up on the secondary market. VANOC says it’s able to trace these tickets to the original owner—cold comfort to a fan waiting at the gate (and brokers too).
Tickets on VANOC’s marketplace are still available. Prices for popular events like men’s hockey are available at auction for between $350 and $750; tickets to the closing ceremonies are available for between $175 and $775.