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Steelers to face Vikings in London in 2013

| Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, 5:58 p.m.

Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt one year; Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison the next.

London is calling the Steelers, who will play an overseas game for the first time next season when they meet the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 29, 2013, at Wembley Stadium. Wembley seats 90,000 and was one of the soccer sites during this summer's London Olympics, which featured Phelps and Bolt.

The Vikings will be the home team, and the Steelers will retain their usual two home preseason and eight home regular-season games. The Steelers previously said they wouldn't give up a home game to play overseas.

There will be two NFL regular-season games next season in London, with the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars meeting Oct. 27 at Wembley. The Jaguars recently agreed to play one regular-season game in London each season from 2013-16.

The Steelers have played seven preseason games outside of the United States, most recently in 2008 against the Bills in Toronto, but this will be the first time they will play a game that counts outside of North America.

“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,” team president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “We look forward to playing in historic Wembley Stadium in what we are sure will be an entertaining game for NFL fans everywhere.”

The game will kick off at 1 p.m. EST, or 6 p.m. in London. The Steelers are expected to practice in London in advance of the game, although it's uncertain whether they will spend the entire week there.

“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,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “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.”

There had been speculation the Steelers might play a game next season in Ireland. Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney is the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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