Guaranteed Rate Field – Chicago White Sox
The Hardest Working Ballpark
Guaranteed Rate Field debuted as Comiskey Park II in 1991 and for the past 27-years has seen multiple names and plenty of changes to the ballpark. Often considered one of the least favorite venues in the major leagues, team management has worked their heart off to make sure that fans will have an enjoyable experience through various renovations.
The facility was the last of its kind built before the opening of Camden Yards the next season; it stands as a symbol of a bygone era, but there have been extensive renovations at the stadium this century that has altered its exterior and interior to better the ambiance, keep up with modern technology, and keep up with current standards expected from today’s fans.
The renovations have included the removal of 6,600 seats from the upper deck section of the ballpark, the repainting of every seat from blue to hunter green, the addition of party decks and restaurants, the inclusion of a kids play area, the addition of bronze statues, and a 25 ton statue honoring the 2005 World Series team outside Gate 4 at the main entrance.
If you haven’t been to a Sox game for some time, chances are that it looks a little bit different from your last visit. However, have the myriad of changes created a better ballpark?
Food & Beverage 5
The White Sox offer fans numerous food options ranging from tasty ballpark standards, inventive combinations, and local favorites. The highlight might just be the enormous selection of craft beer from the Chicagoland area on display in the Kraft Cave.
The Cuban Comet Sandwich is classic ham and cheese sandwich with pulled pork and pickles named after Sox legend Minnie Minoso, who was known as the Cuban Comet. The Triple Play BBQ Sandwich is a Vienna Beef smoked brisket, barbecue pulled pork, and a jalapeño cheddar sausage served on a roll. Corn off the Cob is fresh corn topped with an assortment of ingredients including butter, salt, and pepper. Meatball sandwiches and Maple-glazed Bacon on a Stick can also be found on the main concourse.
The Sox introduced a trio of sausage items this year: The Slurve (cheddar beer brat with caramelized onions, spicy deli mustard), The Change Up (Monterey jack chicken sausage with salsa fresca), and The Cutter (Southwestern chorizo with guacamole and cotija).
If that is not enough to tempt your taste buds, fans can visit the Beggar’s Pizza Pub in right field for pizza slices, fried ravioli, and chicken parmesan sandwiches. Tater Tachos, Pot Roast sandwich, and classics Buono Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs are available. There is also the old favorite Comiskey dog grilled in front of you and topped with grilled onions.
The Kraft Cave is located on the ground level behind the visitor’s bullpen offering a full-service wait staff and 115 varieties of craft beers. The cans are from Chicago-area breweries and are available at a cost of $9 for a 12-ounce can and $11 for a 16-ounce can. Customers can purchase grab ‘n’ go beers from the massive cooler located in the area. There are also eight new craft burgers, including the four-patty Four Bagger.
Fans are treated to local flavors during weekend games with the introduction of The Change-Up Kitchen portable stand in Section 113. The partnership with Fooda offers a taste of local restaurants that include offerings from Twisted Eggroll, Maria’s Brazilian Kitchen, Garifuna Flava, and Haire’s Fried Shrimp to name just a few.
Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room is located via a staircase above Section 157 in left field. The Tap Room features #SoxSelfie spots and various social media-driven activities including rewards for accessing the MLB App. Food and beverages also are available in the space including pizza slices and made-to-order street tacos with fixings. There is also a giant size bobblehead of Jose Abreu.
Two hours before the start of the game fans line up the parking lots next to the stadium to tailgate. The area includes bags tossed in the air, the smell of smoke from the barbecue, and a few drinks between Sox fans before the first pitch.
Closer to the start of the game is Championship Plaza featuring a life-sized white bronze and granite sculpture celebrating the 2005 World Series championship team and a historical timeline of the franchise along the diamond’s base paths. There are also Legacy Bricks that are inscribed with a personalized message in the plaza.
Once inside, the main concourse from the first to third base line is somewhat narrow, but the outfield concourse opens up to a wealth of excitement that makes it one of the best areas in baseball. The wide open area houses an array of fun areas for fans of all ages,
White Sox Legends Sculpture Plaza is the highlight of the center field concourse featuring life size statues of all-time greats. There are nine statues featuring Frank Thomas, Harold Baines, Luis Aparicio, and Carlton Fisk where fans can pose and take pictures with during the game.
The CIBC Fan Deck is available at times for single-season ticket holders and offers a panoramic view of the playing field on the two-tiered deck atop the center field concession stands. However, most of the time is rented out to large groups. Just below the deck is an ivy-covered batter’s eye.
The Xfinity Kidz zone is located above the left center concourse overlooking the playing field that provides instruction on the game of baseball. Kids 12 and under can utilize the plaza with a youth-sized Wiffle ball diamond along with batting and pitching cages that is accessible from the 100, 300, and 500 levels of the stadium. The best part about it, it’s free of charge.
Also located above the concourse is the center field video board that’s slightly larger than 8,000 square feet measuring 60 feet high and 134 feet wide. It shoots off fireworks after every Sox home run or victory, provides Sox Facts of the Day, displays the Buono Italian Beef race (where lucky fans have the opportunity to redeem a ticket for a free Italian beef the next day at one of its locations), and provides interactive activities in between innings.
The 500 section of the ballpark features nods to old Comiskey Park. The canopy is painted dark gray and colorful murals of former White Sox players, All-Star programs, and yearbooks are on display on the brick walls. It should be noted that fans are limited to this area during games, but there are times when that rule is lax.
The Chicago Sports Depot is the team’s official two-story team shop offering much more than Chisox gear. A Virtual Reality batting cage puts fans at home plate of Guaranteed Rate Field for a Home Run derby contest and there is even space for rotating exhibits that includes a nod to Latino baseball players. There is even a tent outside offering discounted merchandise.
The ballpark is bordered by the Dan Ryan Expressway and the working class residential Bridgeport neighborhood. The area is not littered with bars, comedy clubs, and restaurants, but it is safe to walk around after the game if you happen to frequent a few places nearby. The best bet would hop on the L and head towards the city if searching for better entertainment options.
The Chisox Bar & Grill is located across the street from the main entrance and features 65 flat-screen TV’s and a large open patio that opens three hours before the game. The menu item highlights include chopped brisket tacos and smoked corn on the cob with sweet maple bourbon butter.
A few blocks away from the stadium is Buffalo Wings and Rings that offers free shuttle service to and from the stadium. All management asks is that you purchase a drink or other menu options. A few feet down is the Bridgeport Restaurant that is open 9 AM to 5 PM daily featuring breakfast specials, three-tier sandwiches, and house specialties. Antique Taco is home to traditional tacos plus fried chicken burritos and creamed elote (Mexican Street Corn). The Duck Inn offers its signature rotisserie duck, but also the duck fat dog, and duck wings.
About a mile away from the stadium is Ricobene’s that is a must go after the game; the breaded steak sandwich, deep dish pizza slices, and Italian beef are highly recommended. The atmosphere is lively and there is plenty of free parking across the street from the restaurant’s covered lot.
Chicago’s Chinatown is a tad north of the ballpark offering a collection of restaurants and businesses catered to the Chinese population of the city. From barbecue, dumplings, noodles, and Sichuan, popular restaurants include B.B.Q. King House, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumplings, Mala Temptations, and Slurp Slurp Noodles.
The White Sox fan base is a dedicated group of people who enjoy watching baseball, but more importantly, want a consistent winner on the south side. They are among the savviest in baseball and could offer up stories of season’s past. At the game, they are focused on the field and hope that within the beginning of next decade the current group of young players turn the team around to pennant winners.
Guaranteed Rate is easily accessible via public transit or car. If driving, the stadium is directly off the Dan Ryan Expressway (I-90/94) at the exit for 36th and 37th Streets. There are six lots for cars that cost $20 Monday to Saturday and $10 for Sunday games.
The CTA Red Line drops you off at the Sox/35th Station and the CTA Green Line at the 35th-Bronzeville station. Once inside there are plenty of bathrooms to use no matter what part of the stadium you are located in during the game, so no need to wait too long.
The ballpark’s main concourse wraps around the stadium and provides proper access to the various concession and merchandise areas of the stadium. The facility also features a series of ramps that take fans to the upper concourse and provides access to the Chicago Sports Depot and Kraft Kave.
Return on Investment 5
The price of a ticket starts at $7 Monday to Saturday for upper level corners and box seats are $17, and both lower corners and box seats are $20. If you are looking for a lower concourse seating option, the outfield reserve and bleacher seats are $26 and $27 a piece–these same seats drop down to $15 for Sunday games.
Also, on Sunday the upper level corner seats are $5 and max out at $15 for other upper corner and box level seats. You always have the option of searching the secondary market like Ticket Monster for better deals if available.
The parking fee is $20 from Monday to Saturday and $10 on Sundays. If you are looking to save money on parking, Buffalo Wings and Rings offer free parking and shuttle service to and from the game from 7 blocks away–just purchase a menu item or a drink while you are at the restaurant.
The White Sox earn a point for 115 varieties of craft beers located throughout the concourse with a majority of them in the Kraft Cave. Around the Bend, Pipeworks, Pollyanna, Lagunitas, 18th Street, 3 Floyds, Half Acre, and 2 Brothers are among the local breweries featured by the can in the cooler.
The White Sox earn a second point for providing Sunday Family Days that include $10 parking, tickets starting at $5 in the 500 level concourse, and kids running the bases after the game. Even if you are not with the kids at the game, a $5 ticket is a great price to enjoy a major league game. The Sox even wear their throwback uniforms from 1982-1986 at every Sunday game.
The White Sox earn a third point for the recent improvements that include new food options, the Kraft Kave, a brand new video board, and the Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room. Year after year, the ballpark has something new for fans who attend a game.
The White Sox earn a final point for the Plumbers 911.com Shower, a carry-over from old Comiskey Park and a fan favorite that was originally installed by owner Bill Veeck in 1976. It is near Section 160 in the outfield concourse. The shower actually works and on a hot day, might be the best way to cool off.
The Chicago White Sox have been working very hard to improve the amenities at the stadium. The past few seasons have seen renovations to the concourse in regards to food and beverage service, social areas for fans, a brand new scoreboard, and fan-friendly pricing on game day tickets. If you haven’t been to a Sox game lately, perhaps you need to come back sometime soon for a game.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
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The Sox have an out of date stadium but have made the best with what they have the past few years with 5 tickets on Sundays, great craft beer choices, and statues in the outfield concourse. However, no matter what you do, the ballpark offers a boring design, terrible sights from the upper deck, and rather uneventful neighborhood.