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Big Ben is framed by a tree on Parliament Square opposite the Palace of Westminster in London

Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press

Vikings set for London game in 2013

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER
  • Star Tribune
  • October 17, 2012 - 11:50 AM

 

Details for the Vikings' 2013 trip to London were announced Tuesday following the NFL's fall owners meetings in Chicago.

The Vikings will play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium on Sept. 29, a Week 4 contest that will be followed by a Week 5 bye.

Vikings owner Mark Wilf was ecstatic with the official announcement of the London trip, saying it would give the team a valuable opportunity to grow its brand while helping the league expand its international popularity.

"Just a unique opportunity to create great awareness and exposure for the team and for the state on our international stage," said Wilf, the team president. "So we embrace the opportunity. It's going to be a great, great experience. And we know we have great fans, not just locally and in the United States but internationally as well."

The showdown with the Steelers will count as one of the Vikings' eight regular-season home dates for 2013. It will also be the first of two NFL regular-season games played in London next season, the first time that's happened. The NFL has had one regular-season game in London each year since 2007, with this year's game between the Patriots and Rams on Oct. 28.

Next season, the Jaguars and 49ers will play at Wembley in Week 8. Jacksonville is slated to play host to games in London in each of the next four seasons.

Whether the Vikings will make their own return trip after 2013 remains to be seen. With it likely that the team will be displaced from the Metrodome for parts of 2014 and all of 2015 as its new downtown stadium is being built, the Vikings could seek a second voyage overseas.

But for now, Wilf said, the team has made just a one-game commitment.

"It's an unknown to us what the experience will be like," Wilf said. "And I know the league feels in a similar way. We're going to go through the experience and then evaluate it afterwards to see how the experience goes."

Wilf said that before the Vikings expressed formal interest in playing in London, ownership consulted with General Manager Rick Spielman, coach Leslie Frazier and others on the football side of things for input.

Wilf also said Vikings season-ticket holders will only be asked to purchase a nine-game package for 2013, with two preseason games and seven regular-season contests to be played at Mall of America Field. Those details will be ironed out in the offseason.

The Vikings will also receive financial assistance from the league to help them compensate for having one fewer true home game.

Said Wilf: "The number one driver to 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 it'll also be an exciting opportunity for our fans worldwide."

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