Vikings will face Steelers in 'home' game next Sept. 29 in London
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The date and opponent for the Minnesota Vikings' game in London next season are set.
Calling it "a significant step" towards expanding the game internationally, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced at the NFL's fall owners' meetings on Tuesday the Vikings will play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 29, 2013, at Wembley Stadium.
"We're very excited," Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf said. "This is going to be a great opportunity for the Vikings franchise to represent and improve the brand of the Vikings. Just a unique opportunity to create great awareness and exposure for the team and for the state on an international stage.
"We've embraced the opportunity, it's going to be a great experience. We know we have great fans not just locally and in the United States but internationally. We're looking forward to the opportunity to play the Steelers."
The Vikings are set to move into a new $1 billion stadium on the site of the Metrodome in 2016 and there has been speculation the franchise will play another game in London while the stadium is being built. The Vikings will remain in the Metrodome next season and possibly in 2014, before playing the 2015 season at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
The team's stadium situation made them ideal candidates to "host" a game overseas. That means there will be seven regular-season games for the Vikings in 2013 at the Dome.
Wilf confirmed the NFL will provide the Vikings with financial support for losing a home game, but it has been reported that playing in London could produce more revenue for a single game than having it in the Metrodome or at TCF Bank Stadium.
"We really appreciate our passionate fans and the support they have for the team but we really see this as a unique opportunity to create awareness and exposure for what we feel is one of the best brands in sports," Wilf said. "It's a great opportunity for the team and the state, as well for our business community and for the tourism industry. ...
"The number one driver in this thing was, given the transition into the new stadium in '16, we just felt this was an opportunity to really grow our brand, grow awareness and also be an exciting opportunity for our fans worldwide."
As for the potential of returning to London in 2014 or 2015, Wilf said: "At this point, we expressed an interest in hosting a game and this is a one-year commitment. That's where we're at at this point. After the season, I know the league will be sitting down and evaluating it."
The game will be the seventh in the NFL's London International Series and marks the first time the league will play two games there in one season. The Jacksonville Jaguars will host San Francisco in the stadium stadium on Oct. 27, 2013.
Kickoff will at 5 p.m. local time (noon Central) between the Steelers and Vikings, who last played in London in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 6, 1983.
Wilf confirmed that following the Week 4 game between the Vikings and Steelers that both teams will have a bye in Week 5.