SPORTS

Pan Am ticket sales pick up; mayor blames procrastinators like himself for lag

06/24/2015 01:36 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - The once-lagging ticket sales for this summer's Pan Am games in Toronto are starting to pick up speed.

Earlier this month, organizers reported that they'd only sold 400,000 of the 1.4 million tickets reserved for both the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

But as of today spokeswoman Neala Barton says that number has surged to 650,000 for the Pan Am events alone.

Barton says the opening ceremonies and most medal matches are nearly all sold out, while equestrian events are also seeing brisk sales.

She says the late spike is in line with what organizers expected to see, adding many people don't make their purchases until closer to the date.

Toronto Mayor John Tory admitted to some last-minute habits of his own, saying he hasn't even bought his tickets yet.

"I'm going to, but I procrastinate, as people do, and I think we should stop talking about this and talk about the good news," he said Wednesday.

The Toronto 2015 organizing committee isn't expecting to sell every ticket, Barton said. The large soccer and baseball venues may be hard to fill during preliminary rounds, she said.

"We know people are still making their decisions around what they want to do for the summer, what availability they have, what kind of budget they have maybe to buy tickets with," Barton said in a telephone interview. "We're seeing what we thought we would see, which is people making those decisions really close to the games."

Positive developments weren't always easy to come by for game organizers, who found themselves contending with sluggish sales and scheduling complications as recently as two weeks ago.

The committee had to tweak schedules for six events since tickets went on sale last September, resulting in some disgruntled ticketholders with seats to qualifying rounds instead of the medal events they'd reserved.

Organizers have said that switches like the ones made to diving, tennis, fencing, cycling, rhythmic gymnastics and racquetball are often made at the behest of a sports federation or to ensure the best possible athletes can compete.

The alterations prompted some social media complaints from disappointed attendees, but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she's noticed a shift in the tone of conversation and the level of excitement in the final weeks before the games get underway.

"There is a different buzz about the Pan Am games and the Parapan Am games even than there was a week ago," she said. "You can tell people are getting more excited about it. There are more stories about the athletes. It's very clear that we're getting ready."

The Pan Am Games will take place from July 10 to 26, and the Parapan Am Games from Aug. 7 to 15.

They will feature 51 different sports taking place among 16 host municipalities in and around Toronto.

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