VANOC sues ticket broker over unauthorized sales

Vancouver Olympic organizers are suing a local ticket broker in their quest to stop black-market ticket sales for the 2010 Winter Games.

Vancouver Olympic organizers are suing a local ticket broker in their quest to stop black-market ticket sales for the 2010 Winter Games.

Coast2Coast Tickets is misleading and deceiving consumers by claiming to have official Olympic tickets for sale, organizers allege in a statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Organizers also said Wednesday that not only is the Vancouver-based company not an official Olympic sales agent, it is putting consumers at risk by selling tickets knowing that they could be cancelled by the organizing committee.

The allegations contained in the statement of claim have not been proven in court.

The lawsuit names Shane Bourdage as being in charge of Coast2Coast, but neither he nor anyone from the company returned calls for comment.

The company's websites did not appear to be offering Olympic tickets for sale late Wednesday, but a cached version of the site showed opening ceremonies tickets had been available for as much as $9,811 each.

The highest official price for an opening ceremonies ticket is $1,118.

The perception had been that organizers hands were tied when it came to taking legal action against ticket brokers, since there's no law in British Columbia against scalping.

Organizers, however, are using copyright and consumer protection legislation instead, claiming that the Vancouver-based company is violating the terms of the ticketing agreement that everyone signs on to when they buy an Olympic ticket.

That includes not reselling the ticket for higher than its face value.

While the committee likely won't go after individuals who resell their tickets, they have promised a crackdown on sponsors and national Olympic committees, which buy tickets from a separate pool than the public.

It's believed those two groups are the source of most of the tickets on the broker market because as many as 70 per cent of the tickets for events like the opening ceremonies or the gold medal hockey game are reserved for such "Olympic family" members.

"[Ticket brokers] get access to thousands and thousands of tickets that we don't think is reasonable to assume they are getting them through the regular lottery process," said Dave Cobb, vice-president of revenue and marketing for VANOC.

Organizers say they will cancel all of a national committee or sponsor's ticket allotment if they're found to have resold even a single ticket to a broker.

Avoiding Beijing situation

"Ultimately this is about protecting the public," said John Furlong, the chief executive officer of the Vancouver organizing committee.

Furlong said no one wants a repeat of the situation in Beijing where hundreds of people who bought tickets from brokers showed up in China only to find out their tickets were invalid.

Cobb said the committee hasn't ruled out launching lawsuits against other companies.

Organizers are also suing Coast2Coast for breaching copyright legislation by using the words Vancouver 2010 and Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

The lawsuit asks for a court injunction stopping the company from selling Olympic tickets and it asks for a list of those groups who sold the tickets to Coast2Coast.

News of the lawsuit came as organizers wrapped up a board meeting Wednesday.

The committee said they've now raised 98 per cent of their target revenue for the Games but are still looking for new ways of raising money.

Organizers said while the economy remains a concern, they're determined not to let it impact the Winter Olympics.


  • An earlier version of this story, from the Canadian Press, stated that Winnipeg-based Roadtrips Inc. was the subject of a class-action lawsuit over Beijing Olympic tickets. In fact, the case was dismissed, according to the company.
    Mar 19, 2009 10:45 AM ET