Brian Ford, the Bucs' chief operating officer, confirmed the team worked with the NFL to assess the impact of Hurricane Irma before making the decision.
"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," Ford said. "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."
Tampa Bay already had its Week 1 clash at the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium postponed until Week 11 due to the storm. That means the team will be forced to play 16 consecutive weeks, leaving little wiggle room within the schedule.
Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said the late change because of Irma meant players wouldn't get as much time to rest during the makeshift bye.
"On a normal bye week, if you have it during the season, you're going to give your players six days off," he told reporters last week. "So, six days would put us at next Wednesday; hopefully we can do something on Tuesday. We're going to take four days off right now, that you have to do for a bye week. You have to take a day off next week; we'll take Monday off. We'll do something on Tuesday, God willing that everybody can be here safely."
He also pointed out being forced to accept a Week 1 bye following the preseason, when most starters only see limited snaps, creates additional hurdles to prepare for the Bears.
"I think the biggest concern right now—take the hurricane out of it, because when I talk about anything I'm taking that out on the side—will just be that Chicago will have played a game and we haven't," Koetter said. "The conditioning level, we've been off for a few days. But those are things we don't have control over right now. We have to do the best we can."
Catherine E. Shoichet and Alanne Orjoux of CNN reported Tampa, which at one point appeared poised for a direct hit from Irma, ended up receiving a "sideways swipe" from the storm. There's still the potential for flooding as the rainfall finds its way into local rivers, though.
The Bucs and Bears, who opened the season with a six-point loss to the reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, are scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff Sunday. The game will be broadcast on Fox.