Chicago Park Dist. refutes Payton story

Updated: September 17, 2009, 10:03 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Chicago Park District refuted a report that it will not allow a statue of Walter Payton to be placed just outside of Soldier Field. And park district superintendent Tim Mitchell looks forward to meeting with Payton's family to discuss the matter, according to a spokesperson.

The Chicago Tribune, in Wednesday's edition, reported that Payton's family has been in talks with the park district for weeks, but park district spokesperson Marta Juaniza said no conversation has taken place.

"We just didn't have the conversation, and we're definitely open to meeting with them," Juaniza said.

A statement released by the park district press office stated: "The Chicago Park District recognizes Walter Payton as one of Chicago's all time greatest sports figures. Despite what the recent Chicago Tribune article implies, general superintendent Timothy J. Mitchell has not met with the Payton family to discuss the placement of a Walter Payton statue in Soldier Field or any other Chicago Park District park. He looks forward to meeting with the family on this issue."

Payton died from complications of liver cancer 10 years ago at age 45.

A life-size bronze statue is being built in Alaska and will be a shade larger than six feet tall, according to the Tribune. And the family's plan is to unveil the statue and donate it to the city on Nov. 7.