It’s official. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Bears at Wembley Stadium in London on Oct. 23 at 12 noon (CST), the team and the league announced Monday.
It will be the first time the Bears have played in London since a preseason game in 1986, when they were reigning Super Bowl champions.
“To return to London to play an NFL game – this is going to be fun,” Bears chairman Michael McCaskey said in a statement released by the team. “I remember how enthusiastic the fans were in 1986 when we played in Wembley Stadium and defeated the Dallas Cowboys. London fans were so welcoming and blended their traditions of singing soccer songs with the NFL-style of presenting games. Of course the Chicago Bears are very pleased to have been named the ‘Team of the Year’ by UK fans following the 2010 season. So we are looking forward to facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October and playing in person before our terrific fans in the UK and Europe.”
The NFL will release it’s full regular-season schedule Tuesday.
The league has already announced the preseason schedule, which has the Bears participating in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 7, the day after former defensive end Richard Dent is inducted. That means the Bears will play a fifth preseason game as well as traveling “across the pond” in the regular season.
Add it all up and it’s shaping up to be a grueling travel schedule in 2011.
Don’t buy your plane tickets yet. The release also said the game would be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa if the current labor situation isn’t resolved by Aug. 1.