Just got back from the Olympic Park to hear Locog’s trying to solve the problem with empty seats at venues.
I managed to get a £10 entrance only ticket to the park, not expecting to see any Olympic action other than on the big screens.
But as we walked around the site, we came across a long queue for the ticket office. We assumed this was for tickets for the Mittal Orbit or maybe for other events later in the week.
But no. It was for recycled tickets to watch the basketball and handball. Every ticket has a barcode that’s scanned but not everyone wants to sit through the whole sporting event.
When they leave the venue, their ticket is scanned again, notifying the ticket office that seat is now free.
Those tickets are then put back on sale for a fraction of the price.
So after a half hour queue, I found myself picking up a £90 ticket to see the US v Croatia in the basketball arena for just….£5.
There didn’t seem to be that many seats free – it was a popular game – but this wasn’t repeated across all the venues.
One of the problems causing the empty seats is a lot of corporates had bought hundreds of tickets to entertain their clients.
But these clients are so scared of breaching the Bribery Act, they’ve turned them down, leaving corporates with lots of tickets they can’t get rid of for love nor money.
I know that one large corporate has handed back at least 10 tickets for the 100m men’s final because their clients were too scared to accept them.
So what can we do. Well, one idea could be to recycle more of the seats. There should be a time limit of 30 mins to take up the seat. As all tickets are scanned, it’ll be quite easy to see which seats are still empty.
The seats would then come back on the market and sold at the on-site ticket office for a fiver. If the original ticket holder turns up late,
they could be given another recycled ticket or empty space.
But access to the Olympic Park should be increased. £10 tickets should be made available on a first come first served basis every morning. This would mean more people would be in the park to apply for recycled tickets.
I think this is the easiest way to solve the problem. But solve it they must.
If we see a daily repeat of these swathes of empty seats not only will Locog’s competence be called into question by the media, but the bank of public goodwill for London 2012 will be spent very quickly.
Finally, I know it’s a bit naff but it was too tempting….