As Tampa Bay works to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, there was good news Tuesday, as the Bucs announced that they would play host to the Bears as scheduled on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.
The news came minutes after a similar announcement that USF would be able to play host to Illinois (and former Bucs coach Lovie Smith) on Friday night in Tampa, welcome news after a week of games being postponed and canceled in anticipation of the hurricane.
"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," said Brian Ford, the Bucs' chief operating officer, 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 and opportunity to come together this Sunday to kick off our 2017 season."
The Bucs' scheduled opener was to be this past Sunday at Miami, but the game was postponed to Week 11 and Nov. 19 as Irma approached Florida last week. Bucs players had four days off this weekend as required during a bye week, and players are expected to return to Tampa and One Buc Place today with the team returning to practice Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's game.
Last year's Bucs-Bears game, also played in Tampa, drew an announced crowd of 62,898, the second-largest for a Bucs home game last season. The team said a "limited" number of seats are still available for Sunday's game.