Vancouver sold tickets, met budgets, drew in crowds

Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:52pm EST
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By Janet Guttsman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - At the end of their six-year race for Olympic glory, the organizers of the Vancouver Games could be forgiven for looking a little smug.

The VANOC organizing committee, headed by an Irishman who once captained Gaelic football teams, overcame world recession, bankrupt sponsors and fears that spectators would stay away in droves to deliver a Games that they say came in on time and on budget, and with every ticket sold.

"We have not changed our projections. We expect to finish the games with a balanced budget," VANOC head John Furlong said as the Games wrapped up.

The committee had an operating budget of just over C$1.7 billion ($1.6 billion) to cover both the Winter Olympics themselves and next month's Paralympics, although there is a lot of money from other sources too.

The operating budget did not include funding for the new Canada Line to the airport, or the widened Sea to Sky Highway to the mountain resort of Whistler, which will be two big legacies of the Games, or a C$900 million bill for security.

Governments paid C$585 million to build venues that included the fastest sliding track in the world in Whistler and a Vancouver speedskating arena that wows environmentalists with its eco-friendly design, and they may be on the hook for costs from the athletes villages in Vancouver and Whistler.


On the plus side, organizers say they are set to exceed the C$260 million they expected from ticket sales, even taking account of more than C$1 million in refunds paid to people who has their tickets a waterlogged venue canceled.   Continued...

<p>The Canadian hockey team celebrates after defeating Russia in their men's ice hockey play-offs quarterfinals at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk</p>