Fans score stadium keepsakes at auction

SportsAuction ServiceFootballSoldier FieldChicago BearsGreen Bay PackersWalter Payton

Lonnie Martin paid $75 on Saturday to own a bit of Soldier Field history--a dented trash can.

"The players threw their Gatorade cups in it," said Martin, 33, a Bears fan from Tennessee. The metal container with a Bears logo, which Martin plans to turn into a drink table for his billiards room, was one of nearly 300 items salvaged from Soldier Field to be auctioned in downtown Chicago.

Few pieces sold for less than $100. Walter Payton's locker, sawed from the stadium before renovations began in January, brought $1,600. A mounted photograph of quarterback Sid Luckman fetched $2,200. A 1985 Chicago Bears world champions flag, one of the auction's most coveted items, went for $5,500.

The charity auction, held in conjunction with the annual Chicago Bears Fan Convention in Chicago Hilton and Towers, netted about $78,000 for Chicago park upgrades and an after-school youth sports program.

The raucous gathering--attendees booed a woman who bought a Green Bay Packers banner for $500--"was definitely a different market from the arts and antiques auctions we're used to," said Sean Susanin, CEO of Susanin's, the auction house that ran the event.

He said he understood the enthusiasm of the fans.

"It's nostalgia. It's emotion. It's history. This is all that's left of Soldier Field," Susanin said. "The rest will be incorporated into the new stadium or has fallen to the wrecking ball."

Many bidders planned to decorate basements and home offices with their spoils.

"This would look good next to the bar and pool table, wouldn't it?" said Kirk Peglow, admiring a battered, pea-green turnstile. Peglow, like most of the attendees, said he wanted something from the stadium to add to his bank of memories.

"Both of my boys have been to Soldier Field and so has my dad. It's an icon," said Peglow, 42, a sales director for a Chicago golf company. "It's neat to have something of that to share."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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