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Bush-Clinton tickets not that hot Add to ...

David Bester is a man willing to go to great lengths for a spectacular show. Indie rock band The Hold Steady is worth it, he says. U.S. Presidents numbers 42 and 43 are not.

So he's selling the two tickets he purchased to tomorrow afternoon's "conversation" between George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for less than their $189 face value.

"I bought them the day they became available. At the time I was very excited to go," Mr. Bester said yesterday.

"It seemed like a really neat opportunity to go and hear something that is unusual, but the security precautions they are taking are turning it essentially into an all-day affair... I just could care less right now."

What was meant to be the hottest ticket in town isn't proving to be an easy sell.

Organizer Christian Darbyshire yesterday said "400 or 500" tickets were still available from a total of 6,000.

A call to the ticket hotline confirmed that general admission tickets are still available at $229, but anyone willing to ask around can probably get their hands on discounted seats.

Ryerson alumni recently received an unsolicited e-mail offering tickets for $189, as did other organizations, after the company co-ordinating the event, Power Within, hawked a discount offer in a bid to extend publicity.

VIP seats, now sold out, were being sold for $495, down from the original $595 price. And groups got discount rates: buy nine tickets, get the 10th free.

The most prestigious tickets - Emerald Premier - were snapped up fastest. Mr. Darbyshire would not give details of price or inclusions.

Toronto Board of Trade president Carol Wilding has one, though, and said she gets to meet Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton before her official duties kick in. "I think it will be very dynamic," she said of the conversation moderated by Frank McKenna.

It's no surprise there are tickets available, she said. "No ticket in this economy is an easy sell. That's not any comment on the speakers. There's just a lot of downward pressure on ticket events."

Those heading to the general admission section could be in for a long day.

Doors open at 1 p.m. for the 3:30 p.m. event. Seating is first-come, first-served, and ticket holders have been warned to come early due to security measures. (It took two hours for guests at Mr. Bush's first post-presidential talk in Calgary to clear security.)

For Mr. Bester, that's just too much hassle for a show he suspects won't have the fireworks he desires.

"It's not so much what's being asked of me. It's what's being given back," he said.

"It's not going to be a debate. It's going to be a lot friendlier than that. For a more robust exchange, I would certainly be happy to camp out for it. Absolutely."

Instead, he'll be back to his usual Friday afternoon, and planning the next road trip to see his favourite rock band.

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