Packers fans invited to make trip to Winnipeg -- a football town

IG Field football stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada / Creative Commons CC0

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (WBAY) - In their next preseason game this Thursday, the Green Bay Packers will make history. They'll take on the Oakland Raiders at IG Stadium in Winnipeg, marking the first NFL game played in western Canada.

An 11-hour drive from Green Bay will land you in Winnipeg, a city of nearly 900,000 people.

Home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, the city is also famous for inspiring the James Bond and Winnie the Pooh characters, as well as Winnipeggers who invented the cell phone and Ebola vaccine.

"There's a lot of claims to fame that we have, but we also have the loudest fans in the Canadian Football League, and if you're a football fan this is a great place to be to watch an NFL game," Dayna Spiring, CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg, touted.

Until last week, though, there was a problem.

"I think we've literally sold like a dozen tickets," Ticket King manager Travis Loftus said.

Loftus said while most tickets on the secondary market for preseason games around the league sell for $20 to $60, face value for tickets at the 33,000-seat IG Field in Winnipeg started at $200.

"That's a whole different ball of wax. Preseason -- I mean, especially the last couple years -- it's been harder and harder to sell tickets," Loftus said.

Tickets to the Packers-Raiders game in Winnipeg have recently been slashed and can now be found for around 60 bucks.

Tourism leaders in Winnipeg are banking on last minute sales and vacation plans.

"I encourage them to make a weekend of it and really see what this city has to offer," Spiring said. "We've got great restaurants, we've got great micro-breweries, a lot of outdoor patios. There's a whole bunk to see and do, and we look forward to welcoming everyone from Green Bay to Winnipeg."