After the season opener was postponed because of Hurricane Irma, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ home opener against the Chicago Bears will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium as scheduled.
Bucs players and staff were scattered around the country as Irma approached the Tampa Bay area, but with Tampa International Airport building up to normal operations and no significant damage to the stadium, the NFL made the decision on Tuesday to play the game.
“We have been working tirelessly with the Tampa Sports Authority, as well as the NFL league office, to ensure that Raymond James Stadium would be available to host our season opener against the Chicago Bears this Sunday,” Buccaneers chief operating officer Brian Ford said in a statement.
“Hosting the game is important to us, as Tampa Bay has been through a lot over the past few days. We look forward to providing our fans and the entire region an opportunity to come together this Sunday to kick off our 2017 season.”
With players starting to arrive back in Tampa after having four days off because of the unscheduled bye week, the Bucs were planning a walk-through Tuesday night before beginning game-week preparations on Wednesday at One Buc Place.
This marks the third consecutive season the Bucs and Bears will meet at Raymond James Stadium. Last year’s game between the teams in Tampa — a 36-10 Bucs victory on Nov. 13 — drew an announced crowd of 62,898, the second-biggest of the year in Tampa.
The Buccaneers said a limited number of tickets remain available for Sunday’s game.
The Bucs game against the Miami Dolphins, which was postponed because of Irma, will now be played Nov. 19, meaning both teams will play 16 consecutive weeks.
Who: Chicago Bears (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
TV/radio: FOX/620 AM, 95.3 FM, 103.5 FM