Interview with Harvey Jones from GM Place, Vancouver

16 Mar
VT: How many games will you be hosting at the Winter Olympics?
HJ: Thirty-two games over two weeks, which is almost three quarters of an NHL season. We’re doing three games a day right now. The biggest difference is broadcast. Obviously this event is very broadcast driven and media get the best seats. They’ve taken out two-thirds of our club seats, about 1,500 seats, and they’ve turned that into their “b” position. We would normally sell those seats. There are 12 teams, and every team has to have a permanent dressing room. We have five NHL caliber dressing rooms, so we needed to build out seven.
VT: What direction did the IOC give you in terms of signage?
HJ: It has to be a clean building, so all signage has to be covered up, taken out or hidden for the games. There is only one corporate sign viewable on the ice.
VT: What were the major financial considerations you had to weigh when signing a contract to host the Olympics.
HJ: We were most concerned about the disruption to our business. They take over our building and get absolute control. For a concert we would retain the use of our suites as a revenue source, but they took that, too. If you do the math, looking at 100 suites for 32 games, it’s a huge number. We had the foresight when we signed our deal to keep the food and beverage. We insisted that our F&B provider, Aramark, would work the games and we retained the same financial arrangement for the sharing of the food and beverage revenue, which is also unusual. The rent that they’re paying us took all of that into consideration.
VT: How about merchandising?
HJ: It’s all theirs. It’s more of the traditional Olympic merchandising model. We turned over the space, so they had to pay to have us move our Canucks gear, and then we gave them an empty shelf. They contracted out with a merchandising company to do the merchandising for all the games, and then that same company turned around to us and signed a contract to use our staff and point of sale system.
VT: For the Canucks, is there any risk?
HJ: The risk is on the hockey side. Our team had to go on the road from Jan. 27 to six games after the Olympics wrap. That’s 14 games in a row during a critical time in the season. Teams miss the playoffs by a couple points, so that’s really our biggest risk. We’ll make up the home games, but compacting the schedule does hurt us financially. If you have four or five home games in a week, people eventually get tired of coming here for dinner and doing the F&B in their suites and that’s a loss of revenue.
VT: Looking back are you happy to have taken on the Winter Games?
HJ: We’re happy with the arrangements we made. We think we got a fair deal from VANOC. We recognized that going in. — Dave Brooks
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