Bears’ London game hinges on labor deal by August 1



If the NFL’s labor situation isn’t resolved by Aug. 1, the game will be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. If that’s the case, the Bears’ date vs. the St. Louis Rams in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7 at Canton, Ohio, will be canceled.

The schedule will be unveiled on NFL Network starting at
6 p.m. Tuesday. The Bears or New Orleans Saints are the most likely teams to open the regular season Thursday, Sept. 8 at Lambeau Field against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
One other nugget we can glean from the date of the trip to
London is the schedule of the Bears’ off week. Typically, teams playing in Europe are off the following week. That means the Bears’ bye would be on Oct. 30 in Week 8.

“To return to London to play an NFL game — this is going to be fun,” Bears chairman Michael McCaskey said in a release. “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 U.K. 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 U.K. and Europe.”

Head coach Lovie Smith said his team is looking forward to the experience even though in the midst of the lockout he has not been able to talk with any of his players.

“Playing abroad will be a unique experience for our players and we embrace the opportunity to serve as ambassadors for our game,” Smith said. “It should be an excellent matchup with two teams coming off double-digit win seasons. We know Bears fans follow us from all over the world and we look forward to playing in front of many of them in London.”

The Bears have played six international games, most recently last November when they faced the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Bears last played outside North America when they met the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game in Dublin, Ireland, in 1997.
This marks the fifth straight season the NFL has played a regular season game at Wembley Stadium. The previous four have been sellouts and the league is pushing international exposure as much as possible.

“Our past four games in London have demonstrated the tremendous passion for NFL football that exists in the UK,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a release. “We hope by staging another extraordinary game at Wembley that we can continue to grow our existing fan base and attract even more new fans.”

For fans planning to attend the game in London, a “registry of interest” will be launched later this week at  Those registered will be first in line for the opportunity to purchase tickets and, based on demand for previous London games, registration is recommended.  

London’s love affair with the hugely popular stateside sport, we are proud to once again welcome two of America’s top NFL teams to the capital,” London mayor Boris Johnson said in a release.  “With a growing local fan base, it is a fantastic opportunity for enthusiasts from London and beyond to experience the unique thrill of a live game in one of the most iconic sports venues around, Wembley Stadium.”

Source: Chicago Tribune

Photos – Wembley Stadium