Gavel Opens Olympic Ticket Auction

SALT LAKE CITY — A pair of Utah celebrities — former rival football coaches Ron McBride and LaVell Edwards — kicked off an Internet auction of Olympic tickets on Monday. University of Utah coach McBride drove the price for two front-row USA-Russia hockey seats to $2,000 — four times the face value.

Retired Brigham Young University coach Edwards didn’t bid any higher, but he has nine more days to consider doing so.

Organizers for next February’s Winter Games are holding the first ticket auction for a major sporting event. Salt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney hoped to promote the auction of “Jack Nicholson” seats with an appearance by the Academy Award winner himself. But Nicholson — famous for his front-row seat at Los Angeles Lakers’ games — was in Omaha, Neb., filming the movie “About Schmidt.”

So Romney rekindled an old football rivalry, with Edwards bidding in person at a computer while McBride countered by telephone from Hawaii where he is vacationing. A series of other eBay auctions will follow if the first succeeds in driving up prices. Organizers hoarded 1,000 of their best seats, hoping to raise as much as $1 million from the auctions.

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