Ticket sales for Pan Am clos­ing stronger since Kanye added


Pan Am Games or­ga­niz­ers said Fri­day that ticket sales for the clos­ing cer­e­mony have been stronger since Kanye West was an­nounced as a head­liner, but some seats still re­main.

The 21-time Grammy- win­ning Chicago hip-hop leg­end will per­form at Sun­day’s fes­tiv­i­ties along with rock howler Ser­ena Ry­der and Mi­ami pop-rap­per Pit­bull. The an­nounce­ment that the re­li­ably di­vi­sive West would head­line the cel­e­bra­tion gen­er­ated a ro­bust mix of cheer, out­rage and, ap­par­ently, money.

“We saw I think an im­me­di­ate uptick (in sales),” Saad Rafi, CEO of the TO2015 or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, said at a news con­fer- ence Fri­day.

He said a “cou­ple thou­sand” tick­ets re­mained avail­able for the clos­ing, to be held at the Rogers Cen­tre - known for now as the Pan Am Cer­e­monies Venue - which also packed a sold-out crowd of roughly 45,000 for the Cirque du Soleil-cu­rated open­ing cer­e­mony ear­lier this month.

As ex­pected, or­ga­niz­ers weren’t par­tic­u­larly gen­er­ous with de­tails of the event, pre­fer­ring in­stead to pre­serve some “fan­tas­tic sur­prises.”

Still, Rafi shared a se­ries of fig­ures meant to ex­press the event’s scope: 500 cos­tumes made from 3,000 yards of fab­ric, 510 vol­un­teers mak­ing up the show’s cast, 150 broad­cast cam­eras and all of the lights (or 300, to be ex­act).

Ry­der will sing the Pan Am Games’ of­fi­cial song “To­gether We Are One,” and the show will fea­ture what Rafi de­scribes as a “huge, cap­ti­vat­ing” fire­works show, a dis­play of pyro “even big­ger than the last one that the city saw for the open­ing cer­e­monies.” The theme is “unity through di­ver­sity.”

Af­ter the news con­fer­ence, Rafi said the artists were work­ing out their sets but that he ex­pected each to per­form three songs.

But af­ter all the dis­cus­sion on whether West was the right choice, or­ga­niz­ers took pains to point out that the mu­si­cal per­for­mances were to be only one por­tion of the cer­e­mony.

“I just want to em­pha­size that they are part of the show,” he said of the three per­form­ers. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to be clear that the clos­ing cer­e­monies are for the ath­letes - for the spec­ta­tors and the au­di­ence (too) but tra­di­tion­ally it’s to celebrate the ath­letes and their per­for­mance.

“It’s not their con­cert,” he added later. “It’s the clos­ing cer­e­monies and they’re per­form­ing in it - all three of them, I might add.”

CBC will carry the cer­e­mony live start­ing at 7 p.m. ET.

Kanye West

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