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CHICAGO-A local preservation group is pushing city and state officials to build a new Bears stadium across 35th Street from Comiskey Park rather than spend $587 million to renovate Soldier Field. Besides saving money and preserving historic Soldier Field, the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois says its idea will jump-start the Armour Square community that received no economic boost from a new Comiskey Park as well as eliminating the need for the Bears to play two seasons of home games in Downstate Champaign-Urbana.

The council commissioned Antunovich Associates to draw plans for a retractable-domed stadium to be built on two blocks north of the current Comiskey Park. The football stadium site would rise from land that was the site of the former Comiskey Park, which was demolished in 1991 to create parking for the new stadium. The council points out that unlike the much-maligned new Comiskey Park, which required demolition of 100 single-family homes and two-flats, the proposed football stadium site is vacant.

However, the preservation council suggests a Bears stadium “could be built in the range of $250 to $350 million” based on the costs of building new NFL venues in Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Nashville and Pittsburgh. In dismissing the preservation council’s idea, Mayor Richard M. Daley scoffed at the cost figures, suggesting they were too low.

The money, according to the preservation council, could come from a $399-million bond issue by by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the state agency created to build the new Comiskey Park.

“The current proposed Soldier Field project is not the best alternative for a new Chicago Bears stadium,” the council says in a statement. “The north Comiskey Park site has many positives and merits genuine consideration. After the years spent wrestling with this issue, a few more months of planning would ensure a good decision.”

The council points out the Illinois Institute of Technology, located east of the Dan Ryan Expressway, recently announced a $250 million campus renovation project.

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