Tickets for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver will go on sale in October 2008, organizers announced Thursday. ((VANOC/Getty Images))

Tickets to the opening ceremony for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will cost $175 to $1,100 when they go on sale a year from Thursday, the Vancouver Organizing Committee announced.

Closing ceremony ticket prices will range from $175 to $775.

The committee said approximately 1.6 million tickets for the ceremonies and the various competitions will become available on Oct. 11, 2008.

In the sports events, the men's ice hockey final will be the most expensive at $775 for the best seats, and $450 and $350 for cheaper seats. Second-most expensive will be tickets to the figure skating Gala Exhibition, ranging from $175 to $525.

Half of all tickets will be priced at $100 or less, and 100,000 of them will cost $25, a VANOC news release said on Thursday.

The cheapest tickets will be for the cross-country skiing events, ranging from$25 to $75, and some seats at the women's ice hockey for $25.

The $175 to $1,100 range for opening and closing ceremony will be lower than that of the ceremonies tickets at the Torino 2006 Winter Games and the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games, said VANOC.

"The 2010 Winter Games are a global event and demand for tickets will be strong across Canada and around the world," said Dave Cobb, VANOC executive vice-president of revenue, marketing and communications, said in the release.

"Our research tells us that three in four Canadians believe that attending the 2010 Winter Games would be 'the experience of a lifetime.' Attending the Games scored the highest of all major sport and entertainment events tested, including the Stanley Cup finals and the Super Bowl in terms of overall experience."

VANOC is also promising to distribute 50,000 tickets to Olympic and Paralympic events to those who would not otherwise have the means to be able to attend. It said a process for allocation of these tickets will be developed in consultation with community groups and social agencies.

No seat left empty

The organizers said they have a strategyto make sure seats are not left empty, as happened at the games in Turin.

"We're doing everything possible to ensure that tickets are used, including working to develop an online ticket buy-and-sell exchange program that allows spectators with tickets who cannot attend an event to quickly exchange their tickets with other spectators who can," said Caley Denton, VANOC vice-president of ticketing and consumer marketing.

VANOC promised the ticket buying process will be simple and user-friendly. They plan to roll it out in phases and will, in some cases, include lotteries to distribute tickets to Olympic events where the demand for tickets exceeds the supply.

Organizers said the system will be similar to that used in previous Games but may be different than what the public is commonly used to for other sporting events and concerts.

Updates about ticket sales can be found at the Games website.

Approximately 30 per cent of the tickets will be held for athletes and their families, National Olympic Committees and international sport federations, media and broadcasters and VANOC sponsors.