Salt Lake City, UT, Sept. 10 (Hannah Wolfson, AP)--There will be no freebies for sponsors at the 2002 Winter Games.
In fact, tickets will range from $20 to $425. Prime seats for speed skating events will cost up to $175; ski jumping at the Utah Winter Sports Park will set spectators back between $110 and $190; and seats for hockey's gold medal round will cost up to $425.
Salt Lake Organizing Committee chief operating officer Fraser Bullock said the goal was to maximize return on the most popular events while keeping cheap seats available at as many venues as possible. All while aiming to bring in $180 million in ticket revenue, calculated on the assumption that 85 percent of tickets will sell.
Ticket prices were announced Thursday among other Olympic developments, which included:
Over the objections of some city officials, the SLOC agreed to accept a Mormon church offer of a downtown city park and $5 million for the medals plaza.
Don Mischer, winner of 13 Emmys, was selected to produce the opening and closing ceremonies.
There will be some bargain tickets. A $35 ticket will get fans in to see bobsled, luge, curling, figure skating, or alpine skiing. Nordic skiing prices start at $30, and speed skating sells for as low as $20.
However, those savings may well be offset by budget-busting prices for the opening and closing ceremonies. The numbers haven't been set but are likely to fall somewhere between next summer's games in Sydney, where ceremony tickets will cost $970, and the 1996 ceremonies in Atlanta, $750 by today's prices.
``We do know that we're going to be less than Sydney,'' Bullock said.
Entrance to some sporting events may end up costing even more, because SLOC plans to put the first 86,600 seats, 10 percent of all public tickets, up for auction on the Internet. Bids will start at the face value of the tickets.
The SLOC says it's an attempt to foil scalpers, who pushed prices at the Winter Olympics in Nagano and Lillehammer up as much as 10 times their face value. The SLOC hopes to have that auction online in August.
``We know those tickets are going to be out there being sold on the Internet anyway,'' Bullock said. ``It might as well be by us.''
Another 20 percent of tickets will be allocated to Utah residents, who will get two or three months to buy them with priority seating. The remaining public tickets will be sold through a lottery similar to the one operated for the Atlanta games, both through the Internet and by mail.
Olympic sponsors will pay for their own tickets, but will get first pick of seating and will take about 13 percent of the tickets. In a new experiment, the SLOC hopes sponsors will agree to donate any unused seats to Utah youngsters. In Atlanta, those last-minute dropout tickets were resold and the proceeds split between the committee and the sponsors.
Beyond the public seats, the SLOC figures the media will take up 243,233 seats. Participating athletes, the U.S. and International Olympic Committees, international sports federations and other members of the ``Olympic family'' will get another 66,000 seats, trimmed down about a third from the SLOC's original estimate.
SLOC President Mitt Romney, responding to questions from the board, said ``there's no harm in asking'' the IOC to pay for its own seats, even though the SLOC agreed under contract to provide free tickets.
``It'll probably be worth $20 million,'' Romney said. ``They'll probably say no. But it's worth asking.''
The SLOC plans to present its ticket structure to the IOC in Greece on Oct. 4, and hopes the IOC approves the plan by the end of the year.
The SLOC's management committee voted to accept the church's offer to convert its parking lot near the Delta Center into a plaza, where, for free, people can see winners receive their medals.
``We gratefully accept,'' Romney said. ``Otherwise, a medals plaza is not financially feasible.''
Some city officials had wanted the City-County Building grounds to be used. Management Services director Roger Black, mayor Deedee Corradini's stand-in on the SLOC management committee, abstained Thursday.
Ken Bullock, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, voted against accepting the church's contribution. He said the medals plaza should be an enduring site and should not become just another parking lot afterward.
The medals plaza was not part of the ``core'' $1.33 billion budget revision approved by the SLOC management committee. It was considered to be something worth doing if a sponsor stepped forth, as the church did.
In other matters, SLOC management trustees appointed former legislator Richard Carling to its ethics committee. He replaces ethics-committee chairman Gordon Hall, a former Utah Supreme Court chief justice, who resigned to spend more time with his family.
The SLOC also announced the 58-year-old Mischer would produce the opening and closing ceremonies.
Don Mischer Productions created and produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1996 Summer Olympics at Atlanta. Mischer produced last year's 50th Emmy Awards show and is executive producer of Sunday's Emmy show.
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press