Steelers will play Vikings in London in 2013
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Big Ben will visit Big Ben when the Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings in London next season.
The Steelers have played a number of preseason games internationally but this will be their first regular-season game overseas when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's team plays the Minnesota Vikings Sept. 29, 2013 in Wembley Stadium.
The Vikings previously announced they would play one of their home games in London, the first time two NFL regular-season games will be played in the United Kingdom. The league has played one annual regular-season game in Wembley Stadium since 2008. Jacksonville will play a home game there against San Francisco Oct. 27, 2013.
"We are excited for the opportunity to play in London in 2013 against the Minnesota Vikings," Steelers president Art Rooney II said on the team's website. "It will be an excellent chance to grow the game of football internationally, and we are thrilled that our players and Steelers fans around the world will be able to enjoy the atmosphere. We look forward to playing in historic Wembley Stadium in what we are sure will be an entertaining game for NFL fans everywhere."
Kickoff will be 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
The Steelers last played an international preseason game in 2008 in Toronto, where the Buffalo Bills have played one game annually in either the preseason or regular season.
Before that, they played the Indianapolis Colts in Mexico City in 2000, the Chicago Bears in Dublin in 1997, the San Diego Chargers in Tokyo in 1996 and the San Francisco 49ers in Barcelona in 1993.
When a preseason game scheduled for Dublin in 1990 between the Steelers and New England Patriots fell through because of a lack of support in Ireland, the game was moved to Montreal. The Steelers also played the New York Giants in Montreal in the preseason in 1969. And in a unique preseason game, they played the Argonauts in Toronto in a 1960 under CFL rules, including 12 players to a side.
"Since we started playing regular-season games in London five years ago, we have heard very clearly from our UK fans -- they want more football," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who revealed the Steelers-Vikings matchup at the end of the league meetings in Chicago Tuesday. "We are excited to play two games in London and take this next step in the growth of our game. We believe that more football will lead to more fans."
This year's game in London between the Patriots and St. Louis Rams will be played Oct. 28. The NFL expects a sellout crowd over 80,000.
According to the league, there is a football fan base in the UK of 11 million, including two million "avid" fans, a 32 percent increase in two years. All Sunday TV ratings have also improved in the UK, up 154 percent. The Super Bowl audience there increased by 74 percent since 2006.
In a press release, the NFL says it has "developed new and stronger business partnerships" in the UK, where the participation in amateur football has risen by 15 percent since the start of the regular-season games at Wembley.
First Published October 16, 2012 6:07 pm