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Toronto Nearly two-thirds of tickets to Pan Am Games remain unsold

A scene from the new velodrome for the 2015 Pan-Am Games that is nearing completion in Milton, Ontario on Sept. 11, 2014.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

With 44 days to go until the Pan Am Games take over the GTA, TO2015 officials confirm that one million tickets of the 1.4 million available haven't been sold.

"Our own surveying has told us that of the people who have [said] they would buy tickets, they said it would be in the month before the games," said Saad Rafi, chief executive officer of the Pan Am Games.

Mr. Rafi said that in order to sell 1.4 million tickets, every venue would need to be sold out, which he considers a "tall order" for some stadiums, such as Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, which will host the soccer events.

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According to Andrew Weir, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Toronto Tourism, the majority of visitors to the Games will come from a more regional market, such as other parts of Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. border states.

He said most ticket purchasers will likely be former visitors to Toronto who want to see something in the city that wasn't there the last time they visited.

While Mr. Rafi will not speculate how many tickets may be left unsold when the games are over, he said he is not worried.

Mr. Rafi said with just over 400,000 tickets sold, revenue targets are almost at 40 per cent at this stage, as many people are purchasing the more expensive tickets to the medal matches and opening ceremonies.

Some of the many tactics the Pan Am Games have used to advertise the festivities include a partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee to showcase Olympians talking about the games, ads on GO trains, subways, buses and hotels, a ferry wrapped in advertising and the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC) creation of the "Epic is On" television commercial.

Mr. Rafi said he expects to see ticket sales pick up when the torch relay begins Saturday. He added that group sales to camps, teams, provincial sport organizations and their stakeholder groups will also spike ticket sales.

The tickets went on sale online in December to ensure enough purchase time was available for the Games that are slated to kick off on July 10.

Five locations across Toronto, including one in Nathan Phillips Square, will host ticket booths starting July 1.

While tickets start at $20 for adults, prices can reach as much as $355 for the opening ceremony, $200 for the closing ceremony and $140 for the medal sessions in swimming and track and field.

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