Tour de France Grand Depart hosts slammed for "outrageous" team presentation ticket prices

Fans hit out at £45-85 cost of traditionally free event; race director Prudhomme sees Leeds show as "template" for the future

by Simon_MacMichael   April 23, 2014  

First Direct Arena (picture credit firstdirectarena.com)

Organisers of the Tour de France Grand Départ in Yorkshire were yesterday forced to defend themselves against accusations of setting “outrageous” ticket prices for the team presentation in Leeds two days before the race begins – with the cost ranging from £45 to £85 for the event at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Thursday 3 July.

Many fans directed their anger at the Le Tour Yorkshire Twitter feed, which responded throughout the day by pointing out that the event was being staged on a not-for-profit basis, that it would be on an unprecedented scale including as yet unspecified live acts, and that the venue was being provided free of charge.

Here’s one exchange:

Some queried why the presentation was not being held in a public, outdoor space such as the city’s Jubilee Square, where more people would be able to watch it – and for free, as usually happens, including last year when teams were introduced to fans at the harbour of the Corsican town of Porto-Vecchio, and in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2007.

With what will be the 101st edition of the race approaching, as far as road.cc is aware there is a precedent of sorts for people being charged to attend a Tour de France team presentation.

That came three years ago, when it was held at a mock Gallo-Roman amphitheatre at the Puy du Fou theme park in France’s Vendée region; road.cc understands that while there was no separate charge to get into the arena itself, spectators did have to pay the park's 30 euro entrance charge.

Philip McDonald, sociology of sport lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, said that the ticket process for July’s event were “outrageous”.

He told the Yorkshire Post: “These events are traditionally free. With the exception of the one in 2011 they do not charge people for these things.

“It does seem otherwise free events are being priced out of the range of the majority of families,” he added.

In a press release yesterday, Le Tour Yorkshire said that the team presentation was on an unprecedented scale and it would be the first time the riders had been accompanied by live entertainment, with details of artists taking part to be revealed over the coming weeks.

The event is being overseen by Martin Green, who as head of ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic Games helped deliver the opening and closing ceremonies.

Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who has described the event as a chance to “be part of a once-in-a-lifetime event for our county,” told the Yorkshire Post: “This is a not-for-profit event and ticket revenue will fund the event and help ensure that we deliver the biggest team presentation ceremony ever.

ASO sees the event as a blueprint for future editions of the Tour, although it's unclear whether that's in terms of the size of it, or charging people to attend, or both.

If the latter, that could mean that those who were lucky enough to be in Porto-Vecchio in July last year will be the last to have seen the riders introduced without having to pay.

Race director Christian Prudhomme said that July’s presentation “will be a first for the Tour and we hope it will become a template for team presentations in the future. It shows how much passion there is for cycling in the UK and Yorkshire’s Grand Départ.”

Pre-registration is now closed and tickets will go on sale on Friday at 9am.

69 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Neil753 wrote:
In my opinion, Pandora's Box was opened at Box Hill, where the "market" was tested to see if UK fans would be prepared to pay to stand by the road. And it was packed, wasn't it?

Organisers probably looked at Box Hill charging, plus the elevated prices for velodrome tickets, and the fact that plenty of riders here are happy to pay rather a lot to ride sportives, and thought that introducing ticketing would be a piece of cake.

I'm not saying it's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's an inevitable development as our sport becomes more mainstream.

The cost of sportives - or rather, people willing to pay larger sums to do them - is one that that'd occurred to me.

However, as someone that went to Box Hill - and I live a handful of miles from there - it it's worth pointing out that the Box Hill tickets were £10 each - a lot less than any other Olympic ticket - and that there was a bunch of security/control required, and big screen/toilet facilities provided, so that felt vaguely reasonable in terms of cost offsetting. The numbers/area control were determined by the National Trust, so a free-for-all by *not* having access control wouldn't have been an option:
http://positivenews.org.uk/2012/environment/conservation/8108/restoratio...
(It's possible the NT received some funds for follow-up work, but I've no idea if that was the case)

posted by JonD [213 posts]
24th April 2014 - 11:54

21 Likes

JonD wrote:
Neil753 wrote:
In my opinion, Pandora's Box was opened at Box Hill, where the "market" was tested to see if UK fans would be prepared to pay to stand by the road. And it was packed, wasn't it?

Organisers probably looked at Box Hill charging, plus the elevated prices for velodrome tickets, and the fact that plenty of riders here are happy to pay rather a lot to ride sportives, and thought that introducing ticketing would be a piece of cake.

I'm not saying it's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's an inevitable development as our sport becomes more mainstream.

The cost of sportives - or rather, people willing to pay larger sums to do them - is one that that'd occurred to me.

However, as someone that went to Box Hill - and I live a handful of miles from there - it it's worth pointing out that the Box Hill tickets were £10 each - a lot less than any other Olympic ticket - and that there was a bunch of security/control required, and big screen/toilet facilities provided, so that felt vaguely reasonable in terms of cost offsetting. The numbers/area control were determined by the National Trust, so a free-for-all by *not* having access control wouldn't have been an option:
http://positivenews.org.uk/2012/environment/conservation/8108/restoratio...
(It's possible the NT received some funds for follow-up work, but I've no idea if that was the case)

It's a tricky thing Jon. A tenner doesn't sound too bad, and I'm not blaming people who failed to understand how paying to stand by the side of the road has set a dangerous precedent, but it's worth remembering that other events on National Trust property (the National Trust's own Summer Solstice at Stonehenge for instance) are free for the common good and the crowd size, security and toilet arrangements are often very similar. The health and safety thing is a carefully crafted red herring; there are plenty of ways to restrict numbers without charging.

The thing is, Jon, we're already seeing cycle sport starting to disappear up it's own elitist a***hole, and if we price youngsters out of even standing by the roadside at good vantage points that Box Hill tenner could ultimately prove very costly.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:02

16 Likes

By the way, the headline prices are not the actual prices - they're also charging a hefty booking fee.

posted by HarrogateSpa [133 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:07

12 Likes

mikeprytherch wrote:
Giro is free... well done Belfast

Yeah well done Belfast on the free tickets.

However the online booking process was a nightmare-3 1/2 to 4 hours for most people spent looking at a queuing screen-I finally got mine after a lot of patience and mutual support via Twitter with other hardy souls!

Otis Bragg's picture

posted by Otis Bragg [130 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:14

17 Likes

dp24 wrote:
Claiming it is being run on a "not-for-profit basis" seems to be stretching the truth a bit.

Whilst the Grand Depart as a whole might run at a loss, it's laughable to suggest they won't be making a profit from this event. That will presumably subsidise some of the other losses. I'd have more respect if they were simply up front about it.

Leeds City Council and the ASO probably aren't making any money out of it - but there will be a lot of suppliers who are! Is that a bad thing? Not for the local economy, it's not, and if it's paid for by a bunch of outsiders visiting just for the event, that's a net gain to Leeds.

Like many, this kind of razzamataz has no appeal for me and I won't even be watching it on TV, but if it helps bring the Tour to UK, I'm all for it.

posted by TimC340 [55 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:25

15 Likes

Otis Bragg wrote:
mikeprytherch wrote:
Giro is free... well done Belfast

Yeah well done Belfast on the free tickets.

However the online booking process was a nightmare-3 1/2 to 4 hours for most people spent looking at a queuing screen-I finally got mine after a lot of patience and mutual support via Twitter with other hardy souls!

Done and dusted in 45 mins. Sorry Otis couldn't resist that one. Looking forward to it. The tourist board seems to have a done a grand job for the whole of the weekend if the programme is anything to go by.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1068 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:28

16 Likes

Gizmo_ wrote:
if the place ends up sold out then they've got the prices right, whether you like it or not.
If you think the only metric of success is maximised profits, they ought to price the tickets so as to have the venue only 90% full, give or take. A sell-out implies they could have charged more.

Anyway, they want an opening celebration rather than a trad team presentation - the idea is probably part of what won the bid, so good luck etc.

They still do a good free team presentation on the Champs Elysée after the day's racing. Always a nice day, sunny too normally.

posted by vbvb [303 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:58

12 Likes

Just checked the seating out and without paying £73 the seats are pretty crap tbh

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
24th April 2014 - 13:58

12 Likes

You are lucky Otis, I spent 2 hours 55 minutes just to get the sold out screen. Still well done to Belfast for offering the tickets for free

posted by Dunluce [69 posts]
24th April 2014 - 14:06

9 Likes

Just what is it that gives me a bad feeling about the whole event.
I am sure much of it will be great but I have horrible worries about the handling of it all.
I predict a complete underestimation of the crowds involved and consequently much bad feeling from those who wish to spectate and find that un publicised and/or unpredictable restrictions will inhibit such a thing.
Bet you a quid that a car gets onto the route after the roads are closed.
I do hope that everything goes well but something deep down just doesn't give me a feeling of confidence.
I intend to go up to watch but I currently have no faith in the info pushed out by the organisers. As yet I cannot find every last road closure time, restriction on parking and access and anything else that may help or hinder me. I Shall be honest and say that it bloody well should be stitched up by now. f anyone would care to help me and provide me with links to such information I shall be very grateful.
Here's hoping!

posted by mattsccm [280 posts]
24th April 2014 - 14:20

13 Likes

Was going to book, no sign of the £45 tickets but the £55 soon turned into £64 after booking fees and postage was added. Not for me thanks, I will let the southern Mamils pay it.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
24th April 2014 - 14:21

13 Likes

Joeinpoole wrote:
Quince wrote:
Do people want 'live entertainment' to accompany the beginning of the bicycle race? Or do they just want to see the beginning of a bicycle race?

It seems out of character to make the opening ceremony a private show in a box, when the race itself is such an celebration and showcase of the beauty of the countries it covers; of it's towns and countryside and character, spaces that belong to all of us.

It's one of the few sports that doesn't need a special venue. It uses entire countries as its venue, and any member of those countries can come and see it. It's the most open, expansive sport I can think of.

Which is why it's disappointing to see that it's not sharing its beginnings out in the open. Instead it's hiding away in a box, charging people to come and see it. If nothing else, it's killed a little of the romance... And there's no more romanticised race than Le Tour.

Fucks sake. What's the big deal? They're only charging for some nonsense 'opening ceremony' bollocks. You can still watch the actual 'event', when chaps with big thighs are riding expensive bicycles, completely for free by positioning yourself on any of the roads on which it passes. Isn't that good enough value for you?

I'm disappointed; not outraged. There's a big difference. For starters, 'disappointed' doesn't usually require the words 'fuck's sake' to make itself understood.

posted by Quince [205 posts]
24th April 2014 - 14:58

22 Likes

mckechan wrote:
Simon_MacMichael wrote:
mckechan wrote:
I have myself two tickets for my team in the Premier League against a the current champions at £40 each.

£40 to watch your team play a mid-table side? Ouch Wink

He-he, well ever since my playground days, I've taken great satisfaction when my team beats Utd - I wonder what all the smug glory-hunters from yesteryear are thinking now? Laughing

Back to the cycling, I wasn't really saying that 40 is cheap, but just thought it would be interesting to compare the ticket cost of a "top" premier league game with the team presentation.

Just £32 for an adult ticket at Selhurst Park, the Crystal Palace ground.

Anyway, yep the ticket prices look a bit steep. Will any of those going really care about being offered live entertainment?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
24th April 2014 - 15:40

26 Likes

surly_by_name wrote:
It's hard to know where to start.

OK, low hanging fruit first. Did anyone see any of that Roman gladiator style presentation from a couple of years ago? I thought the whole point was to embarass the riders by making them do something stupid. Surely no one goes to these team presentations? Even if they are free?

Can we all get over that ever so slightly sickening sense of entitlement? Cycling is free to watch because the organisers haven't worked out how to make you pay. Yet. As soon as they can do so - and Flanders Classics, the people who bought the rights to most of the early season races in Flanders, are leading the way in this regard - they will. Do other countries have the same sense of entitlement I wonder? Or is it just us with our (fiscally unsustainable) free at point of delivery NHS and our (postcode lottery, random outcomes) education system who have come to expect that someone (else) should pay for stuff that we consume?

Also, don't diss wealthy newbies. So what if a some well paid private equity executive kits himself out in new sky kit and buys a sky replica Pinarello with flat pedals. He's doing more for bike shops (and HMRC - all that 20% VAT) than most of the rest of us. We should all be applauding his selflessness. (It's almost always a "he".)

And finally, just don't go. Don't be outraged at the cost, really, you will miss absolutely nothing if you stay at home. Spend the money you save on something bike related (or better yet, beer), you'll have a far better time (especially if you buy beer).

Possibly the most self indulgent and patronising post I've read this week but that aside, I don't think people have a "sense of entitlement" and, by the way, I pay for the NHS service through my taxes (I'm not entitled to use it being a serviceman however) if you're getting it for free I can only assume you're a feckless lay about doley?

I think the point being made is that people don't mind paying reasonable prices for something, they don't like being bent over and shafted for cash.

I await you indignant and pithy response.

chrisp1973's picture

posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
24th April 2014 - 16:43

14 Likes

Whilst I don't agree with some of Mr Surly's points I can't see how the post is either self-indulgent or patronising.

And if you have never encountered the highly refined, British sense of entitlement you have indeed led a sheltered life.

Mike

mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [182 posts]
24th April 2014 - 17:05

12 Likes

chrisp1973 wrote:

I await you indignant and pithy response.

I'll admit I struggle with pithy - verbose is more my thing, regrettably. I am not indignant about very much at all. Maybe the amount of tax I pay or maybe the way its spent, but that's for another time.

I am about to go and ride my bike. You all stay safe and have fun.

posted by surly_by_name [177 posts]
24th April 2014 - 17:11

16 Likes

But the prices *do* seem astronomically high, don't they? For a team presentation?

I love pro-cycling (obviously) but the mania building around this is starting to get to me. More and more tempted to just stay at home, avoid the hassle. Does that make me miserable?

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1103 posts]
24th April 2014 - 17:30

15 Likes

mike the bike wrote:
Whilst I don't agree with some of Mr Surly's points I can't see how the post is either self-indulgent or patronising.

And if you have never encountered the highly refined, British sense of entitlement you have indeed led a sheltered life.

A sheltered life, hardly.

Entitlement, yes I've seen it, mostly from the benefit grabbing, baby producing great unwashed, it wasn't really relevant here.

If you can't read his post and see the indulgence and pick up on the patronising lecturing tone (much like this post) then I suggest you read it again.

If you must defend someone please, pick someone better to champion.

Oh, one last thing, where did you get your Pinarello and Team Sky kit?

chrisp1973's picture

posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:21

8 Likes

So, Yorkshire wants to get the most publicity it can so it's going to get some live acts to gain media attention. It needs to fund these acts, so needs to charge. I'm delighted that the taxpayer isn't funding it. This is all about getting international TV attention.
I don't usually expect to pay to see a TV show being recorded (not a sense of entitlement but Jeez Britain does suffer with many who have it), but people still turn up at football grounds with every league game having cameras these days.
So, my question is, should it be about cycling or showbiz? Whatever the right moral answer, one look at the indulgent Olympic ceremonies tells you about the modern televised world.
BTW, team presentations are not entertaining, does anyone here really want to see it? Especially with a load of 'has been' and 'wannabee' entertainers tacked on! Yuk!

posted by Lofthope [3 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:22

18 Likes

chrisp1973 wrote:

Oh, one last thing, where did you get your Pinarello and Team Sky kit?

Aaah, now I see it; the textbook example of patronising.

Mike

mike the bike's picture

posted by mike the bike [182 posts]
24th April 2014 - 18:45

12 Likes

mike the bike wrote:
chrisp1973 wrote:

Oh, one last thing, where did you get your Pinarello and Team Sky kit?

Aaah, now I see it; the textbook example of patronising.

That's the ticket old chap.

chrisp1973's picture

posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
24th April 2014 - 19:27

13 Likes

I got a ticket for the simple fact this is a once in a life time in Leeds also Leeds are changing the format from just a "team presentation" Leeds is making it a opening ceremony type affair.

Expensive yes but its a one off.

Leodis's picture

posted by Leodis [239 posts]
24th April 2014 - 19:28

17 Likes

mike the bike wrote:

Entitlement, yes I've seen it, mostly from the benefit grabbing, baby producing great unwashed, it wasn't really relevant here.

Walk into most NHS hospitals and you will find a load of people with this so called sense of entitlement. And no, the majority are not benefit grabbing baby producing etc etc. The are the refined elite, who feel that their higher tax bracket salary entitles them to special treatment.

posted by indyjukebox [52 posts]
24th April 2014 - 20:20

10 Likes

indyjukebox wrote:
mike the bike wrote:

Entitlement, yes I've seen it, mostly from the benefit grabbing, baby producing great unwashed, it wasn't really relevant here.

Walk into most NHS hospitals and you will find a load of people with this so called sense of entitlement. And no, the majority are not benefit grabbing baby producing etc etc. The are the refined elite, who feel that their higher tax bracket salary entitles them to special treatment.

Funny, I'd have thought they'd have gone private?

chrisp1973's picture

posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
24th April 2014 - 21:27

11 Likes

chrisp1973 wrote:
indyjukebox wrote:
mike the bike wrote:

Entitlement, yes I've seen it, mostly from the benefit grabbing, baby producing great unwashed, it wasn't really relevant here.

Walk into most NHS hospitals and you will find a load of people with this so called sense of entitlement. And no, the majority are not benefit grabbing baby producing etc etc. The are the refined elite, who feel that their higher tax bracket salary entitles them to special treatment.

Funny, I'd have thought they'd have gone private?

What's the emergency number for private patients? Or do they dial 999 like the other proles before being put through to their concierge?

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
25th April 2014 - 11:21

13 Likes

farrell wrote:
chrisp1973 wrote:
indyjukebox wrote:
mike the bike wrote:

Entitlement, yes I've seen it, mostly from the benefit grabbing, baby producing great unwashed, it wasn't really relevant here.

Walk into most NHS hospitals and you will find a load of people with this so called sense of entitlement. And no, the majority are not benefit grabbing baby producing etc etc. The are the refined elite, who feel that their higher tax bracket salary entitles them to special treatment.

Funny, I'd have thought they'd have gone private?

What's the emergency number for private patients? Or do they dial 999 like the other proles before being put through to their concierge?


I don't know, I have the butler dial.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [956 posts]
25th April 2014 - 12:11

11 Likes

farrell wrote:
chrisp1973 wrote:
indyjukebox wrote:
mike the bike wrote:

Entitlement, yes I've seen it, mostly from the benefit grabbing, baby producing great unwashed, it wasn't really relevant here.

Walk into most NHS hospitals and you will find a load of people with this so called sense of entitlement. And no, the majority are not benefit grabbing baby producing etc etc. The are the refined elite, who feel that their higher tax bracket salary entitles them to special treatment.

Funny, I'd have thought they'd have gone private?

What's the emergency number for private patients? Or do they dial 999 like the other proles before being put through to their concierge?

Don't we all have a private physician on hand 24/7? Just me!?!

chrisp1973's picture

posted by chrisp1973 [57 posts]
25th April 2014 - 12:41

10 Likes

"details of artists taking part to be revealed over the coming weeks"...maybe if the 'artistes' were announced before the tickets went on sale, people would not have been so hostile... having said that maybe no reveal is on purpose... can't say i'm a big fan of Black Lace #agadoo-do-do!

Philly Applause

philly's picture

posted by philly [21 posts]
25th April 2014 - 18:55

9 Likes

The price is abit steep same as most of the sportives these days. Over the last couple of years me and some friends have wanted to step up our riding, It seems that the CTT and Audax UK are the only organisers not trying to get their hands on the last of your pay check.

Its a joke that they out price anyone under 30 without exec or consultant to there job title. Luckily they cant expect to ticket the 00's of K's along the route where we can watch and dream

posted by idris [2 posts]
25th April 2014 - 19:41

1 Like

Could have offered free tickets to us volunteers as a thank you.

Blood, Sweat & all the Gear with no Idea.

fatbastard's picture

posted by fatbastard [24 posts]
27th April 2014 - 7:37

4 Likes