SBD/March 16, 2011/OlympicsPrint All
The USOC BOD yesterday voted to adopt new ethics guidelines and named former John Hancock CEO James Benson Chair of a newly formed Paralympic advisory committee. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the new guidelines streamlined what previously served as the organization's employee code of conduct. Benson was one of five new board members that joined the meeting for the first time yesterday. The others were USA Hockey Exec Dir Dave Ogrean, former Microsoft President of Entertainment Robbie Bach, four-time Olympian Nina Kemppel and former Visa exec Susanne Lyons. They bring the board membership to 15. Blackmun said the new board was quick to contribute to the discussion. Blackmun: "These are talented people and they’re not wallflowers. It increased the level of energy.” Ogrean credited the outspokenness to a recent two-day orientation program new board members took in Colorado Springs. It was the first time new board members had ever undergone orientation. The program explained board procedures and shed light on current topics being discussed by the board. Ogrean added, “It gave them a knowledge base so a lot of things talked about in the meeting today we were not hearing for the first time.” USOC Chair Larry Probst said the organization continues to discuss its revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC and is "encouraged by the tone" of the discussions, but he had no further update on the matter (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
EXPANDING THE VISION: In Colorado Springs, Brian Gomez reports the USOC “might add another dimension” to $16M in renovations at the Olympic Training Center, with plans for a "‘multimedia experience’ inside the visitors center that wouldn’t cost Colorado Springs taxpayers any more money.” The USOC BOD yesterday discussed “specifics surrounding the endeavor, which would become the second-biggest item behind the USOC’s downtown headquarters building” in a $42.3M commitment by the city of Colorado Springs. Questions remain “unanswered about the financing, the design and the timetable.” USOC officials “envision a larger visitors center ‘focusing on inspiring excellence, telling the stories of the athletes, explaining the history of the Olympic movement and allowing visitors to experience aspects of the sports science behind the work at the OTC.’” In turn, the USOC believes it can “expand the number of visitors and more effectively convey its message to the American public.” Allstate has “offset costs” for the HOF induction ceremony at the visitors center in the past, and Blackmun said landing a sponsor to help the undertaking would “create a more impactful experience,” albeit through “significant resources.” Gomez notes there is also the “chance of the USOC teaming with NBC -- or its new broadcast partner -- for some pieces of the venture, a definite attraction to sponsors and a sure-fire cost-saver” (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 3/16).
Visa "has apologised to sports fans who were unable to book tickets" for the '12 London Games on the first day they went on sale, according to the UKPA. Fans with Visa cards that "expire before the end of August found the ticket website, which went live on Tuesday, could not complete their orders." A Visa Europe spokesperson said, "We are working closely with all relevant parties to resolve this issue as soon as possible." LOCOG officials noted that the website and ticketing guide "clearly states that in order to process an application, Visa cards must not expire earlier than August 2011." This is because while people are "applying now for tickets, they will be paying for them between May 10 and June 10 and will need their card to be valid at this time" (UKPA, 3/16). In London, Owen Gibson notes Visa "promised to work on a solution that would allow those with cards that expire before August to submit their applications." LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe has had to "defend Visa, an Olympic sponsor for 25 years, for being the only card that can be used to pay for tickets online." Checks are "accepted, but only through" the mail (GUARDIAN, 3/16). In London, Ben Smith notes despite "fears the website would creak under the strain, with more than 2.5 million people having already signed up to the ticket website before sale began, Coe said that the 2012 infrastructure had stood up well to its first significant test." There already are "indications that the 15 track-and-field sessions in the 80,000-seat stadium will be oversubscribed almost twice over." Coe said, "We have had no reported glitches. It is not a first-come, first-served system and there will be no greater chance of getting a ticket if you apply on the first day rather than later" (LONDON TIMES, 3/16).
CORPORATE PRICES TOO HIGH? The BBC's Adrian Warner wrote Olympic tickets for corporate hospitality "will be the most expensive ever" -- around US$434,500 for a package that includes the Opening Ceremony. Officials from "20 top companies which usually entertain clients at sports events" indicated that the prices of the packages are "too high and that they are not flexible enough" (BBC.co.uk, 3/15).
TIME STANDS STILL: In London, Rob Hastings reports the Olympic countdown clock "broke down yesterday, hours after a TV comedy about the build-up to the Games had depicted a similar debacle." The digital clock in London's Trafalgar Square was "started in a whirl of flashing lights and fireworks on Monday night" by Coe to mark 500 days until the Games begin. Despite the "modern design of the real clock, made by Omega, it ground to a halt after less than 18 hours -- 500 days, seven hours, six minutes and 56 seconds before the start" of the Games. Six hours after the company's engineers "arrived to fix it last night, the clock was back up and running, having been adjusted to compensate for the mishap" (LONDON INDEPENDENT, 3/16).