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Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play the Chicago Bears in London this season?

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ESPN is reporting that the Buccaneers will play the Bears in London in Wembley Stadium in 2011. This will take away a home game from the Bucs, and that really makes this tough to swallow for local fans. The Tampa Bay area already lost a game against the Patriots to Wembley Stadium in 2009, and those only roll around so often. Now a game against the Bears - a classic Bucs opponent from the NFC Central days - will be moved to London as well? If this happens Bucs fans are being robbed, and it's a shame.

I've been to a couple of games in London including the last Bucs game and I can tell you that the people in that stadium really love football - but that it's chock full of neutral fans, not fans of a specific team. It would make sense for the league and the teams to send different teams to the game each year, as most people there don't care which teams play. Remember: the Broncos-49ers game even sold out. But instead of watching the Bears battle, say, the Vikings, we're going to see the Bucs play there twice in three years? Feh.

If this does happen, and it's far from certain, I can't help but think that last year's blackouts have something to do with it. The Glazers can't be happy about the turnout at Raymond James Stadium last year, and selling out an 86,000-seater in London should net them a pretty penny. At the same time the Glazers recently said that ticket sales were going very well, and I would expect the Bucs to sell out some games next year as the team has shown terrific improvement. The terrible economic situation may stand in the way of that, though, and it's tough for a lot of people to be able to afford to go to the stadium.

That all said, this is not official yet and things could change in the future. Keep that in mind, as the schedule has not been officially released. The fact that there's a lockout could complicate things as well.

UPDATE: NFL VP Mike Signora says that the Bucs are "under consideration" to play in London, as are "many" other teams. Source: Rick Stroud