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  • Vancouver View - Bus Companies Want Pay, Souvenir Glut, Countdown Clock


    08/12/10

    The American Bus Association has waded into the dispute between VANOC and Gameday Management over debts owed to Olympic Bus Network subcontractors.
    Bus Companies Seek Pay for Olympics Work

    The American Bus Association has intervened in a dispute between VANOC and bus systems contractor Gameday Management.

    “Bus companies did not directly contract with VANOC and there are, in some cases, one or two other entities in between,” ABA president Peter Pantuso said. “We certainly hope that VANOC will assist helping these operators -- many of which are small family operators -- become reimbursed.”

    Pantuso estimated 35 to 50 companies are owed $5 million to $12 million. Final Olympic payments were due in mid-April. Subcontractor International Trailways of Birmingham, Ala. procured more than 500 buses and almost 1,000 drivers from 37 states.

    “Holding this money hostage for this long has really messed everything up for us,” said International Trailways operations manager Ron Wall Jr. “We are stuck in the middle.”

    Wall said VANOC is pressing Gameday for concessions because VANOC urgently ordered 150 more motor coaches just before the Games to replace broken-down, ex-transit buses from California.

    Wall claimed VANOC actually didn’t hire enough buses or drivers.

    “The suggestion that the transportation system was an unqualified success is a superficial analysis without knowledge of all of the facts,” said VANOC executive vice-president Terry Wright in an Aug. 6 statement emailed to media.
     
    Wright charged Gameday with billing improprieties and that it failed to notify VANOC of all the subcontractors in the fleet.
    “VANOC determined that most of the increased costs were due to billing errors, unapproved and/or un-communicated charges and charges that VANOC had specifically disapproved,” he said.

    Gameday president Tony Vitrano said VANOC owes $10 million, “but they are attempting to dispute some of this, citing performance issues, which we disagree with.”

    VANOC budgeted $52.3 million in 2007 for bus systems. Several drivers complained that they were provided poor accommodation and cold, stale food and were forced to work beyond the 14-hour legal shift limit.

    Souvenir Glut
    Two discount warehouse sales run by official VANOC licensees remain open, six months after the Games –one of them stocked with 40,000 Vancouver mascots.

    Cajo Designs in Vancouver is scheduled to keep selling until the end of August, while Northern Gifts in Burnaby could remain open until Christmas.

    “There is just a terrific amount of merchandise remaining,” said Northern Gifts president Bob MacKerricher. “Most of the licensees didn't know what to do with the products -- some of them sold their products on the basis if it didn't sell, the stores
    Two Vancouver-area warehouses are selling items returned from retailers across Canada. (B.Mackin)
    could return it.”

    The IOC Marketing Report said $57 million of merchandise royalties were collected, exceeding the pre-Games estimate by $3.2 million.

    But MacKerricher said bulk sales to corporate sponsors fell short because of the recession. He estimated Northern has 40,000 Miga, Quatchi, Sumi and Muk Muk dolls in stock, beginning at $2.50 each. Profitability relies on selling the excess inventory.

    “We have to liquidate the inventories to make it a worthwhile experience for us,” said MacKerricher, who has sold quantities to local grocery and drug store chains and a Chinatown wholesaler.

    Countdown for Clock

    The Omega-sponsored Vancouver 2010 countdown clock will be separated for use in two places.

    The Olympic half will go on display at the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame when it reopens in 2011 at B.C. Place Stadium.

    The Paralympic half and
    The Omega Countdown Clock at the Vancouver Art Gallery will be separated and moved.(B.Mackin)
    stylized totem pole is destined for the day lodge at Whistler Olympic Park. Since the Games ended, both clocks have displayed zeroes day and night.

    The Olympic cauldron in Jack Poole Plaza was re-lit July 24 for the Meeting Professionals International convention opening party. It was re-lit for the first time since the Paralympics on July 1 for Canada’s national holiday.

    More Sports Sought for Stadium

    Officials of taxpayer-owned B.C. Place have talked with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League about staging a match inside the football stadium in 2013.

    B.C. Pavilion Corporation has hired VANOC director and World Olympians Association vice-president Charmaine Crooks on a contract to lure international sport federations and promoters to the downtown stadium which hosted opening and closing ceremonies.


    Sliding into Court

    U.S. Olympic bobsledder Bill Allen Schuffenhauer goes on trial Aug. 17 in North Vancouver Provincial court for allegedly assaulting his fiancée.

    The 37-year-old was charged in connection with an alleged Feb. 24 incident in Whistler. Schuffenhauer, a Salt Lake 2002 silver medalist, finished in 13th place in the four-man team event.

    Power Company Lawsuit

    A temporary power company is suing Molson Canadian Hockey House producer Vision Group of Companies and Hockey Canada.

    Viridian Power filed July 27 in B.C. Supreme Court to collect nearly $85,000 owing. The hockey-themed beer hall near Rogers Arena (the former GM Place and Canada Hockey Place) “was not profitable,” according to Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith in a May interview with the Globe and Mail.

    With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver. For general comments or questions, click here.

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