SI Vault
Edited by Robert W. Creamer
June 27, 1983
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June 27, 1983


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Shoppers startled last week by high prices in Sears stores weren't looking at merchandise but at a ticket-order brochure for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The brochure, available at more than 3,300 Sears stores across the country, as well as at branches of sponsoring banks in Southern California and metropolitan New York, is a handsome 32-page catalogue of everything from the opening ceremonies on July 28 through the closing ceremonies on Aug. 12, from preliminary rounds in fencing and field hockey to finals in track and field and swimming. Ticket prices to each event are listed, along with ordering instructions.

Although tickets to the opening and closing ceremonies, which are considered separate events, cost $50, $100 and $200 each, the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee says that almost half of the 5.6 million tickets available to the public for the days in between cost $10 or less. However, a glance at the brochure reveals that most of the inexpensive tickets are for preliminaries or for low crowd-appeal sports like archery and team handball. Track and field tickets for the afternoon-evening sessions when most of the finals take place cost $25, $35 and $50 each—for each session. And there are eight days of track and field competition.

Swimming tickets are even steeper: $40, $60 and $95 apiece for each of the six final sessions. The various gymnastics finals are priced the same, as are the big games in basketball. In fact, the cheapest seat during the last five days of basketball competition (except for one morning of also-ran games) is $25. For quarterfinal bouts in boxing, seats go for $25, $35 and $60; that jumps to $40, $70 and $95 for the finals—and the finals are split into morning and evening sessions. If you want to see all the title bouts, you'll need tickets to both sessions.

Even some of the fringe sports have eye-opening prices. While the Los Angeles Dodgers charge only $2 to $6 a seat for their home games, tickets to Olympic baseball in Dodger Stadium—consisting of demonstration games between amateur teams—range from $5 to $20. Tennis, another demonstration sport, is limited to amateur players and professionals who have not yet reached their 21st birthdays (presumably to ensure fiduciary innocence), but will command $35 to $50 a seat for the finals.

But what the heck, give it a shot. Applications must be in Los Angeles by Aug. 15 of this year. Filling the orders will be a complex process, but, essentially, tickets to all but the most popular events will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. A form of lottery will decide who gets the most highly prized tickets. Full payment must accompany orders, including a 6% Olympic Games Ticket Distribution Tax and a $1 handling charge for each ticket ordered. Money will be refunded for orders not filled, except for the handling charge.

Those taken aback by the prices should note that in its introduction to the brochure the LAOOC says that corporate support of the Games "enables us to offer you much lower prices than otherwise would have been possible."

Hey, you're getting a bargain.

The Cincinnati Enquirer's entry in the city recreation commission's Sunday-morning softball league is called the Bad News Bearers.


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