Olympic tickets on sale for how much?

593982.jpg

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.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Former Celtics and current Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is up to his old tricks, apparently.

The Bulls have suspended Rondo for Monday’s game due to conduct detrimental to the team, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical saying that the suspension is the result of a “heated exchange” the 30-year-old had with a Bulls assistant during or after the team’s 107-82 loss to the Mavericks Saturday. 

Rondo clashing with others is nothing new. He once shattered a television on which the Celtics were showing him game footage to critique him and had to be carried out kicking and screaming by Kevin Garnett. Chris Sheridan reported in 2013 that Doc Rivers had an “intense dislike” for Rondo and that the two almost fought.

After being traded out of Boston, Rondo was suspended for a game by the Mavericks after a shouting match with Rick Carlisle. Last December, he was suspended for calling referee Bill Kennedy a homophobic slur, leading to Kennedy coming out as gay. 

Interestingly enough, there's something of a pattern of Rondo's bigger infractions occuring in games against former teams. The Kennedy incident came in a game against the Celtics, while this recent one was against Dallas. 

This is the first season of a two-year, $28 million Rondo signed with the Bulls in the offseason. He is averaging 8.2 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 6.7 rebounds a night.