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Bears to play in new state-of-the-art stadium


On Thursday, guard Kyle Long was asked what sites he'd like to see while the Bears are in London this weekend.

"I want to see what the end zone is like at Tottenham Stadium," said Long.

Long was joking, brushing aside the latest in a week's worth of questions about Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. However, Long has a point. Tottenham Stadium is the newest marvel in a city whose history stretches back millennia.

The stadium opened in April of this year to be the home of Tottenham Hotspur FC. The club has a 10-year contract with the NFL that will result in at least two regular-season games a year.

Tottenham Stadium has a capacity of over 62,000, roughly the same as Soldier Field, which makes it the largest soccer club stadium in London.

"We shall be a home for the NFL in London," said Daniel Levy, chairman of Tottenham Hotspur. "Their dedicated entrance, as well as dressing rooms and medical facilities in our East Stand, mean our stadium is the only one outside the United States specifically designed for the sport."

Besides the differences in field dimension, American football and soccer differ in how much wear and tear they put on the grass. Soccer does not involve 22 cleated participants charged to the same spot on the field every 30 seconds. To prepare for this difference, the stadium installed a first-of-its-kind retractable grass field, which can be pulled away in three sections to reveal a turf gridiron beneath. 

"London is the sporting capital of the world," said London Mayor Sadiq Khan, "and I welcome the commitment from Spurs in building not just a fantastic stadium for Premier League football and the NFL, but also leading the regeneration of this area of London and investing in local people."

The stadium's amenities stretch beyond the pitch. The concourses are lined with 1,800 HD TVs, and four bespoke LED video displays each measuring roughly 3,500 square feet broadcast live inside the stadium. As an all-purpose events center, Tottenham Stadium boasts 65 food outlets, three bars and a microbrewery.

"We have created a new landmark in London," said Levy, "one that is truly global, and one that will stage the world's two most popular sports, Premier League football and NFL, along with many other sports and world-class entertainment."

Like the Bears, Tottenham Hotspur FC is one of England's most storied franchises. The team dates back to the 1880s and is named in honor of Henry Percy, a significant figure in English history and the plays of William Shakespeare. In 1992, the club was one of the founding members of the English Premier League.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which opened earlier this year in London, will host its first NFL game on Sunday when the Bears play the Raiders. Get an early glimpse with these photos.