gold medal prices

Olympic fever is starting to build. An e-mail arrived this weekend suggesting a family gathering in Vancouver on February 12 - at the Games opening ceremonies. "A historic opportunity to get us all together," it said.

Olympic fever is starting to build.

An e-mail arrived this weekend suggesting a family gathering in Vancouver on February 12 – at the Games opening ceremonies.

“A historic opportunity to get us all together,” it said. “The only problem is finding 14 tickets together.

“And there’s popcorn.”

The e-mail included a link to e-seats.com, where people can buy tickets for the opening ceremonies.

They ranged in value from $750 to $9,085 a pop. The average seems to be in the $1,700 range.

Now, that’s well beyond the stated prices on the official Olympics site, but gives an idea what the after-market scalping for the tickets is.

Which raises some questions.

Like, who, precisely, are the Games for?

Direct public investment in the 2010 Vancouver games from Ottawa and Victoria is approaching $1.2 billion. That’s for a 16-day event.

Roughly half the money is coming from all the citizens of the country. Yet the benefits are going to flow to those who are willing and able to pay, at minimum, $175 a ticket, and probably closer to $750 to legitimate scalper companies just to get in the door.

The community will receive some benefits from the spectacle through Games-related spending. And there will be some beautiful sport facilities in the region as the result of the grand spectacle.

But don’t kid yourself, there are large companies that have a long history of providing most of the goods used by the International Olympics organization.

Because of that, the local economic and tourism benefits used to justify these things are usually overstated and fleeting.

The wealthy will experience the spectacle in all its glory.

The rest of us will watch from the cheap seats … at home, awash in a stream of ads for Coke, McDonald’s, Bell, Hudson’s Bay Co., GM, Petro Canada, Rona and many others who use the event, and the public investment, to further their own interests.

At least there will be popcorn. (Richard Mostyn)