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NFL exhibition game to be marketed in U.S.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>The Oakland Raiders will take on the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game at IG Field on Aug. 22.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The Oakland Raiders will take on the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game at IG Field on Aug. 22.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/7/2019 (321 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Some people may have forgotten that the NFL is coming to Winnipeg next month, as there has been little to no advertising about the event since the announcement was made on June 5. But that will change next week, according to Travel Manitoba.

Travel Manitoba’s vice-president of marketing and communications, Linda Whitfield, said in an interview that it will be running an ad campaign promoting the Aug. 22 pre-season clash between the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers to markets surrounding Manitoba from July 14 to 28.

"We’re not selling tickets, obviously, but we’re looking for opportunities for people to extend their stay," Whitfield said.

One of the ways Travel Manitoba will look to do this, she said, is by having discounts on hotels near IG Field.

Whitfield said Travel Manitoba will be targeting markets in Grand Forks and Fargo in North Dakota, Green Bay, Wisc., and Saskatoon and Regina, and said it’s unlikely anyone inside Manitoba will see its advertisements

A spokesperson from Tourism Winnipeg said they will support and work with Travel Manitoba to amplify their promotions any way possible, but added that they will be following Travel Manitoba’s lead.

John Graham, president of On Ice Entertainment, a company that helped organize the event, said the game will be capped at 32,000 attendees. Tickets went on sale a month ago, and according to Ticketmaster, about half the tickets are still up for grabs, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Graham said he is not concerned about attendance, especially since marketing was not planned to start until later this week.

Ticket prices range between $75 and $375, plus taxes and fees. Seats in the lower bowl of the stadium start at $290, and the average ticket price would be about $225. When the Buffalo Bills first visited Toronto in 2008 for the Bills-in-Toronto series, the average ticket price (adjusted for inflation) was $218.

According to Ticketmaster, seats at the 50-yard line — best in the house — for Friday’s clash between the Bombers and Toronto Argonauts cost between $147 and $167, plus taxes and fees.

Ticket prices were set by On Ice Entertainment and the NFL.

People seem to have warmed up to the NFL coming to a CFL city, but originally the move was seen as an attempt for the Blue Bombers to drum up business, at a time when the city’s sports market has never been more saturated.

According to the organization’s 2018 annual report, its total profit was $2.6 million, down from $5.1 million in 2017, and the lowest margin in six years. Attendance at the Bombers’ home opener on June 27 was also relatively low, despite the team reducing the prices of beer and food, days before the game.

At the June news conference, Blue Bombers president and CEO Wade Miller stayed mum about how the organization’s bank account would benefit, but said the Oakland Raiders will get the majority share and On Ice Entertainment will also get a cut.

nicholas.frew@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @n_frew

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