The Chicago Bears football team will not be ready to bear down on a site for a new stadium for another 12 to 18 months, a team official said last week.

Tim LeFevour, the Bears' director of administration, said the team was exploring its options with 12 suburban Chicago communities about financing a 72,000- to 75,000-seat open-air stadium with public and private funds.

He said the team will be looking for the selected community to help fund land acquisition, infrastructure, or even a portion of the stadium, which is estimated to cost $150 million. "I assume some kind of bonds will be involved," he said.

Four of the 12 communities are Arlington Heights, Warrenville, Waukegan, and West Chicago. Mr. LeFevour declined to disclose the remaining eight.

Jennifer Dick, a spokeswoman for Waukegan, said city officials have had preliminary discussions with the team whose indoor winter practice facility is located there. She added that the city has not heard from the Bears organization for nine months.

Officials from the three other communities did not return phone calls.

Mr. LeFevour said talks with Chicago about building a new stadium there "have been nonexistent."

The Bears' lease with the Chicago Park District for Soldier Field expires in 1999.

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