Why doesn’t London want to see Tom Jones for free?


August 4, 2012   |   Posted by Emma Synnott

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There is so much going on in London at the moment it is hard to keep up. But this sentiment appears to be shared by many – in fact too many. London is putting on some of the biggest musical events it has ever hosted in conjunction with live sport, and yet the venues are well under capacity.

With the controversy still raging over ticketing for Olympic events, why is it that the capital’s two huge free venues are so unloved? I spent the best part of a day at the Hyde Park BT Live Site and was mightily impressed by the three enormous screens showing different live sport, by the array of food outlets, and the range of fun things for children and adults to do. All of this for absolutely no charge is a wonderful contribution to making the Olympics accessible to all. What’s more, Hyde Park and Victoria Park Live Sites are featuring the UK’s best-loved performers rocking their way into Londoners’ hearts, or hoping to at least.

We have been shocked to learn that performers have cancelled and crowds have generally been way under expectations. But dig a little deeper and there appears to be a range of reasons why these venues are not attracting the crowds.

The first reason appears to be that many people think these events, though free, are ticketed and that these have been fully booked out. But I have been assured this is not the case. The events are free and unticketed, except for the opening and closing ceremonies. The confusion may have arisen because there is a system of priority booking for guaranteed access at times when the venues are expected to reach maximum capacity. The organisers need to get their act together on this and clarify the situation to the event-going public urgently.

The second possibility for poor turnout is the no-food and drink policy and the tight security at the door. We understand that the Live Sites were attempting to maintain a consistent approach with LOCOG on whether or not food and drink could be brought into venues but soon found themselves out of step with Olympic organisers. For families looking for a day out, is it still too expensive to go to a Live Site and have to buy food in-venue? At Hyde Park there was certainly a range of food on offer at a range of prices, but no one could call it a cheap day out. It may be too late to change this policy but perhaps some relaxing of the rules would persuade some more people to come and spend the day in the sun.

Finally, we wonder whether there simply hasn’t been the coverage of the Live Sites needed to bring out the crowds – particularly all those disappointed Brits who missed out on tickets. And if sport isnt your thing, I heard from one of the organisers this week that Tom Jones was booked to play at Hyde Park. How could any self respecting Brit not race out the door immediately in the hope of seeing the great man belt out some of his most knee melting numbers? Possibly because they don’t know he is due to play here! Come on London! Let’s get this party started!

Emma Synnott

August 2012

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