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Some ticket prices go down for Winnipeg NFL pre-season game


WINNIPEG — The price has been reduced for up to 6,000 tickets for this month's NFL pre-season game in Winnipeg after the promoter put together a sponsorship deal.

The partnership between Canadian-based On Ice Entertainment Ltd. and Molson Coors was announced Friday and affects end-zone seats in the lower bowl for the Week 3 Aug. 22 game at 33,000-seat IG Field between the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, On Ice Entertainment president John Graham said 5,500 to 6,000 tickets have been reduced to $75 plus fees and taxes, taking the total cost to $92. The seats at the home of the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers are being called the 'Miller Lite End Zones.' The seats originally were priced at $164 before taxes and fees.

"Obviously for an event like this, there's an opportunity to sell beer and it seemed to make a lot of sense," Graham said.

"What we wanted to do was create an area that we needed to address. Everybody was saying about tickets (being high) and we found a partner that was willing to step in and assist us.

"So if somebody turns around and says, 'I'd like to go to the game,' there's an extremely affordable ticket."

Current ticket sales are at about half the stadium capacity, including seats in the 40-plus suites that have already sold out, he said.

"For sure we'd like to see more ticket sales, and I'm sure that Mercedes would like to sell more cars," Graham quipped.

"We're at the half-way point in capacity at the building. I think with all the focus now that NFL training camps have opened … you'll see momentum gained for all NFL games, including ours."

On Ice Entertainment set original ticket prices with the Raiders, who are the home team. They ranged from $75 to $340 before taxes and fees, with all-in costs up to $439 for centre-field seats.

Some tickets in the end zones still cost a total of $192 and $266.75, depending on the row and location behind the goal posts.

"We're trying to put the best show on out there and giving the best pricing that we possibly can and this is what this partnership has enabled us to do," Graham said, noting the expense of bringing in the teams and converting the field influenced pricing.

Graham said if someone has a seat near a fan with the re-priced ticket and questions it, "Ticketmaster will handle it."

Oakland receives the gate revenue as the home team for the Winnipeg game and the Bombers are being compensated for providing the host venue.

Ticket pricing has been in the spotlight since the game was unveiled earlier this year. Tickets for an pre-season game in Minnesota — the closest NFL stadium to Winnipeg — later this month start at just over US$12 on online ticket reseller StubHub.

NFL Week 3 pre-season games traditionally give the starters the most playing time. Green Bay star quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be the marquee player in the game. NFL teams play four pre-season games.

Announcements about the halftime show and other events will be made soon, Graham said.

Next week, former Raiders and CFL star receiver Mervyn Fernandez will visit Winnipeg, Graham said.

The game in Winnipeg will mark the first NFL contest in Canada since the Buffalo Bills completed a run of eight games in Toronto with a regular-season clash against the Atlanta Falcons in December 2013.

Graham, who lives in Toronto, has been a promoter of sports and entertainment events for decades. His company most recently put on a soccer exhibition game last month in Edmonton between La Liga's Real Valladolid and Cardiff City FC.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press