Olympic tickets on sale for how much?

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Olympic tickets on sale for how much?

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP)There are still tickets on sale for the mens 100-meter finals at the London Olympicscontrary to what most people think. The opening and closing ceremonies too. Even beach volleyball (but not too many.)

As with all things in life, though, there is a catch. It will cost you.

They are part of hospitality packages sold by a company contracted by London Olympic authorities to sell the most desirable events. Combined with vintage champagne, fine wines, canapes, and multi-course dinners, the deluxe deals offer companies a chance to entertain their most favored clients.

This is for people who dont mind spending 4,500 pounds (7,000) per person to attend a 10-second event if it could mean closing a deal worth a few million. Not what one might call the nosebleed seats.

You may not remember who you were with when Chelsea played West Brom, said Alan Gilpin, chief operating officer of Prestige Ticketing Ltd., referring to two English soccer teams. But you will remember who you were with when Usain Bolt runs.

The Prestige concept is new in an Olympic context. Among American sporting teams, NFL franchises have for years made their best seats available to top-paying season ticket holders and combined them with food, wine and extras. But up until now, the usual way to get such treatment at the Olympics was being an executive at McDonalds, Coca-Cola or other Olympic sponsors.

Big corporations are still willing to pay millions to attach their name to the games, piggybacking on the branding of an event devoted to healthy competition and warm, fuzzy stories of overcoming adversity. Prestige, however, gives high-rollers and smaller business executives a fighting chance to be oh-so-close as well.

The payoffs can be huge, says Marc Ganis, the president of Chicago-based SportsCorp., a sports consultancy.

What the Olympics provide more than anything else is a platform for multinational companies to bring together their top customers and their top corporate decision makers, Ganis said, noting that chief executive officers are likely to attend to lead their own teams. That can tend to lead to tighter relationships and more business.

Still, its a tricky issue for Londons organizers, who have struggled this year over the subject of tickets and access to them. They set up a complicated lottery system in which people blindly registered for tickets and handed over credit card details to pay for them before they even knew whatif any tickets were getting.

Its like going to a supermarket and putting some money down at the checkout in hopes of getting the shopping you want, said Matthew Bath, the technology editor of the consumer group Which?

Two-thirds of ticket seekers failed to earn any in a first round that ended in Aprilwith 22 million requests in the first round for the 6.6 million tickets available. A second round was blighted by computer problems. Plans for further ticket sales at the end of December and again next year have failed to stem public grumbling.

Those dashed expectations are worrisome in a time of economic austerity, as critics have charged that millions were spent to build stadiums and otherwise finance the gamesonly for the public to be shortchanged when it comes to actually seeing them, complaints exacerbated by reports of huge ticket allocations for sponsors.

Prestige says its allocation comprises about 1 percent of the overall London Olympic ticketsand stresses that 70 percent of its packages sell for less than 1,000 pounds (1,500) a person. Their clients include broadcasters, national Olympic committees and media companies. Some 20 percent of their sales have gone to individuals, with packages offered to a minimum of four.

There will be stiff competition out there to lay on the best party for the London Games. Even Queen Elizabeth II has taken note. In an unprecedented move, the monarch has given permission for big fancy rooms at St. Jamess Palace in central London to be rented out to holders of royal warrantscompanies with long-standing ties to the royal family. Those rooms are reported to include the Throne Room, the Tapestry Room and the Queen Anne Room.

Nonetheless, Andrew Burton, the chief executive of Prestige, said hes not worried about losing business to people who might want to rent out the palace.

Thats great, Burton said. But it doesnt give you access to tickets.

Still London organizers might be a tad uneasy, since they have just over half of their tickets sold with under nine months to go, Ganis said.

The Olympics are different than most other sporting events in that people who want to attend really plan ahead.

There are a lot of logistics involved in traveling to an Olympics, unless theyre planning on selling a lot of these packages locally, he said. (Ticketholders) make those kind of arrangements months in advance and not on the spur of the moment.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Here are some of Tuesday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

Jonathan Toews has five-point night, including a hat trick, in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Report: Bears seeking trade partners for Jay Cutler

Bulls Talk Podcast: What is the Bulls' approach at the trade deadline?

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

Northwestern's offense nowhere to be found as Illini complete sweep of season series

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Why Sammy Sosa compared himself to Jesus Christ in candid interview

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

MESA, Ariz. – Joe Maddon teased reporters when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona one week ago, promising the Cubs wouldn't tone down the gimmicks now that they're World Series champions: "We already have something planned for the first day that you might not want to miss."

A weekend of rain in Mesa postposed the first full-scale full-squad workout until Monday, and the wet grass meant the big reveal had to wait until Tuesday morning, when gonzo strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss drove a white Ferrari onto the field for the team's stretching session.

The bearded man they call "Bussy" rocked sunglasses, a gold chain around his neck, brown dress shoes and the same navy blue windowpane suit he wore to the White House. The overarching message as Buss blew kisses and Cypress Hill's "(Rock) Superstar" and Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" blasted from the sound system: Humility.

"I hope everyone gets the sarcasm involved," Maddon said.

So, uh, no, the Cubs aren't going to dial it back or turn the zoo animals away or worry about the target they proudly wore on their chest last year.

"I don't know if the mime's coming back or not," Maddon said during the welcome-to-camp press conference. "Could you do a mime two years in a row? I don't know if that's permissible under MLB rules somewhere. I don't think you can bring a mime back two years in a row.

"Magicians are OK. You can anticipate a lot of the same, absolutely."

Before rolling your eyes at a star manager who loves the spotlight, it's important to note that the stunts are largely Buss productions.

"A lot of times, I'm not even aware," Maddon said. "He just knows he's got my blessings. He knows he does not have to clear it with me, unless it's absolutely insane. It works pretty well this way."

While every Maddon dress-up theme trip doesn't get universal love in the clubhouse, Buss has a unique way of getting millionaires to pay attention, almost tricking them into doing work.

"He's got several well-endowed players on the team that support his histrionics," Maddon said.

[MORE CUBS: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field]

Since taking over this job in 2001, Buss has survived multiple ownership structures (Tribune Co., Sam Zell, Ricketts family) and the Andy MacPhail/Jim Hendry/Theo Epstein transitions in the front office, working for managers Don Baylor, Rene Lachemann (interim), Bruce Kimm (interim), Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria.

"He must have some good photographs, right?" Maddon said. "He's a different cat. He's a weapon."

Buss can clearly get along with almost any kind of personality. But it took Maddon – and the explosion of social media – to give him this kind of platform.

"No, nothing's changed, man," Maddon said. "It's all the same in regards to 'the same,' meaning the methods, the process. I just got aired out by one of our geek guys for not using the word ‘process.’ It’s true. Last year, I used the word ‘process’ often. I’m going to continue to use it a lot again this year.

"Why were we able to withstand the word 'pressure' and 'expectations' as well as we did last year? Because we weren't outcome-oriented. We were more oriented towards the process. Anybody in your job and your business – if you want to be outcome-oriented – you're going to find yourself in a lot of trouble just focusing on that word.

"It's all about the process. Our process shall remain the same, absolutely it shall. Hopefully, we're going to add or augment it in some ways that can be even more interesting and entertaining."

The irony is that the Cubs have repeatedly used outcome-based thinking in defending Maddon's decisions during the World Series. But the manager obviously deserves so much credit for creating an environment where this team could play loose and relaxed and not collapse under the weight of franchise history.

"Our guys are pretty much in charge of the whole thing," Maddon said. "I love the empowerment of the players. I love that they feel the freedom to be themselves. If they didn't, maybe Jason (Heyward) would not have gotten the guys together in a weight room in Cleveland after a bad moment.

"All those things matter. And you can't understand exactly which is more important than the other. So you just continue to attempt to do a lot of the same things. Process is important, man, and we're going to continue along that path."