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Olympic tickets on sale for how much?

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Olympic tickets on sale for how much?

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP)There are still tickets on sale for the mens 100-meter finals at the London Olympicscontrary to what most people think. The opening and closing ceremonies too. Even beach volleyball (but not too many.)

As with all things in life, though, there is a catch. It will cost you.

They are part of hospitality packages sold by a company contracted by London Olympic authorities to sell the most desirable events. Combined with vintage champagne, fine wines, canapes, and multi-course dinners, the deluxe deals offer companies a chance to entertain their most favored clients.

This is for people who dont mind spending 4,500 pounds (7,000) per person to attend a 10-second event if it could mean closing a deal worth a few million. Not what one might call the nosebleed seats.

You may not remember who you were with when Chelsea played West Brom, said Alan Gilpin, chief operating officer of Prestige Ticketing Ltd., referring to two English soccer teams. But you will remember who you were with when Usain Bolt runs.

The Prestige concept is new in an Olympic context. Among American sporting teams, NFL franchises have for years made their best seats available to top-paying season ticket holders and combined them with food, wine and extras. But up until now, the usual way to get such treatment at the Olympics was being an executive at McDonalds, Coca-Cola or other Olympic sponsors.

Big corporations are still willing to pay millions to attach their name to the games, piggybacking on the branding of an event devoted to healthy competition and warm, fuzzy stories of overcoming adversity. Prestige, however, gives high-rollers and smaller business executives a fighting chance to be oh-so-close as well.

The payoffs can be huge, says Marc Ganis, the president of Chicago-based SportsCorp., a sports consultancy.

What the Olympics provide more than anything else is a platform for multinational companies to bring together their top customers and their top corporate decision makers, Ganis said, noting that chief executive officers are likely to attend to lead their own teams. That can tend to lead to tighter relationships and more business.

Still, its a tricky issue for Londons organizers, who have struggled this year over the subject of tickets and access to them. They set up a complicated lottery system in which people blindly registered for tickets and handed over credit card details to pay for them before they even knew whatif any tickets were getting.

Its like going to a supermarket and putting some money down at the checkout in hopes of getting the shopping you want, said Matthew Bath, the technology editor of the consumer group Which?

Two-thirds of ticket seekers failed to earn any in a first round that ended in Aprilwith 22 million requests in the first round for the 6.6 million tickets available. A second round was blighted by computer problems. Plans for further ticket sales at the end of December and again next year have failed to stem public grumbling.

Those dashed expectations are worrisome in a time of economic austerity, as critics have charged that millions were spent to build stadiums and otherwise finance the gamesonly for the public to be shortchanged when it comes to actually seeing them, complaints exacerbated by reports of huge ticket allocations for sponsors.

Prestige says its allocation comprises about 1 percent of the overall London Olympic ticketsand stresses that 70 percent of its packages sell for less than 1,000 pounds (1,500) a person. Their clients include broadcasters, national Olympic committees and media companies. Some 20 percent of their sales have gone to individuals, with packages offered to a minimum of four.

There will be stiff competition out there to lay on the best party for the London Games. Even Queen Elizabeth II has taken note. In an unprecedented move, the monarch has given permission for big fancy rooms at St. Jamess Palace in central London to be rented out to holders of royal warrantscompanies with long-standing ties to the royal family. Those rooms are reported to include the Throne Room, the Tapestry Room and the Queen Anne Room.

Nonetheless, Andrew Burton, the chief executive of Prestige, said hes not worried about losing business to people who might want to rent out the palace.

Thats great, Burton said. But it doesnt give you access to tickets.

Still London organizers might be a tad uneasy, since they have just over half of their tickets sold with under nine months to go, Ganis said.

The Olympics are different than most other sporting events in that people who want to attend really plan ahead.

There are a lot of logistics involved in traveling to an Olympics, unless theyre planning on selling a lot of these packages locally, he said. (Ticketholders) make those kind of arrangements months in advance and not on the spur of the moment.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

What Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan trades mean for future of Blackhawks defense

What Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan trades mean for future of Blackhawks defense

After finishing 30th in goals against average (3.55) and 31st in penalty kill percentage (72.7) this past season, the Blackhawks are clearly making it a priority to patch up their defense this summer. And that's been evident with the acquisitions of defensive-minded defensemen Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta.

But it raises some interesting questions about the future of the Blackhawks blue line.

With the de Haan and Maatta additions, the Blackhawks now have five defensemen under contract through at least the 2021-22 season: Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million cap hit), Duncan Keith ($5.538 million), de Haan ($4.55 million), Maatta ($4.083 million) and Connor Murphy ($3.85 million). That's $24.8 million tied up to five guys.

The money isn't the primary concern, though. It's the limited amount of roster spots available. The Blackhawks don't have to immediately figure out how it's going to work a year from now and beyond, but it makes you wonder how the cards may eventually be shuffled.

Let's run through the situations:

— Erik Gustafsson had a breakout season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He's obviously not part of the five current players under contract after next season, putting the Blackhawks in a spot where they have to consider trading him or be comfortable with letting him walk for nothing if he isn't re-signed. (They could always trade his negotiating rights after next season and pull off a sign-and-trade as well, if it came to that).

And even if Gustafsson is re-signed, the Blackhawks would then have six players locked up for the 2020-21 season and on, and that's enough to submit a lineup.

— Henri Jokiharju, who was drafted No. 29 overall in 2017, is probably ready to take the next step and become an everyday player. Where does he fit into the long-term plans?

— Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018, likely needs one more year in the OHL before making the jump to the NHL, which would put him on a timeline to become part of the Blackhawks next season. Does he occupy that sixth spot if another one isn't opened by then?

— Nicolas Beaudin, who was drafted No. 27 overall in 2018, is expected to start the upcoming season in Rockford after four years in the QMJHL but might be NHL-ready by the 2020-21 campaign.

— And then there's Ian Mitchell, who's returning to Denver for his junior season and will serve as the team's captain. He's said all along that he intends to sign with the Blackhawks once he's finished with college, but does the organization value him enough to create a spot for him when he's ready?

To make things a little more complicated, the Seattle expansion draft is set to occur in 2021 and the same rules will apply as Vegas in 2017.

The Blackhawks have the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters and one goaltender. All players with no-movement clauses at the time of the expansion draft (and who decline to waive them) must be protected; Keith and Seabrook have a NMC. And all first- and second-year pros are exempt; Jokiharju would have to be protected.

As of this moment, the Blackhawks are likely to use the eight-skater option, but they will also have valuable forwards to protect. They're going to lose a good player one way or another, and it's probably going to come from the defensive group. All of this comes into play when weighing roster decisions for next season and beyond.

As stated above, the Blackhawks do not have to make an immediate decision on the future of their blue line corps. They can play out the 2019-20 season with the group as currently constructed. But the decisions the Blackhawks have to face next season could impact how Stan Bowman operates the rest of this summer and throughout the upcoming campaign.

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