Guaranteed Rate Field – Chicago White Sox
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Good Times to Be Had at Sox Park
Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, gets a bad rap from many ballpark pundits and baseball fans. Everything from the surrounding neighborhood, the facility, and its appearance have all been scrutinized. However, you should not believe everything you hear. This ballpark is home to great food, easy access, enthusiastic fans, and reasonable prices.
The stadium opened in 1991 to replace the 80 year-old Comiskey Park. The old park was definitely showing its age and was the oldest facility in the majors at the time. The $167 million stadium guaranteed that the club would remain in Chicago for the foreseeable future. However, within the year, a new epoch in stadium construction would set a higher standard for all future ballparks. Camden Yards opened in 1992 for the Baltimore Orioles and it harkened back to another era of ballparks, while creating an intimate view and atmosphere for baseball.
Guaranteed Rate Field, known as Comiskey Park II until 2003, went through numerous renovations to make the ballpark more fan friendly. The Sox made numerous changes to the suddenly out of fashion stadium that included the addition of party decks, decorative lighting, brick on the main concourse, recoloring of the bright blue seats to hunter green, and the removal of eight rows of seats (6,600 in all) from the upper deck to reduce seating capacity to 40,615.
Food & Beverage 4
The White Sox offer their fans an array of local and international flavors at the stadium. The built in concession stands offer the usual ballpark fare at your everyday ballpark prices. The hot dogs sell for $5.75, while hamburgers, black bean burgers, chicken tender baskets, nachos, and waffle fries sell in the range of $5.75-$10.25. Beggars Pizza can create a whole pie for $12, and there are sweet treats like ice cream, sundaes, and frozen candy bars. The portable stands offer the most interesting and intriguing food at the stadium. The hot pressed Cuban sandwich is tangy, sweet, crunchy, and made on the spot for $8.50, while fresh corn off the cob is mixed with lime, chili, mayonnaise, and cheese for $5.50. There are even more international treats as plump tamales are hot out of the pot for $5.75, and Asian-inspired steamed buns come by the pair with fillings of teriyaki chicken, mongolian beef, and vegetables for $7.
The local favorites include Comiskey dogs ($6.50), pierogies ($5), Polish sausages ($5.75), street tacos ($8), and Italian beef sandwiches ($6.50). These Chicago staples are enough to satisfy customers’ appetites, but there is much more to sample including bacon on a stick, loaded baked potatoes, and Irish nachos.
The best dish to share is the supreme nachos that can easily feed 3-4 people for $9.50. If you have a sweet tooth and you want to make a few friends, grab a helmet filled with 12 scoops of ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate syrup.
The beer selection is also varied and lines are long, but move steadily each game. There are a few Midwestern Brews stands that offer bottle selections from Pollyanna, Great Lakes, Two Brothers, Revolution, Half Acre, and Bells for $7.25-$9.50. Coors and Miller products are sold on draft and sell between $6.50-$9.50, while craft and premium products will cost between $7.25-$10.75. Pepsi products are sold by the bottle for $5.
The Xfinity Bar & Carvery is located in section 108 featuring a full-service bar and specialty deli sandwiches including the piled-high Ultimate Turkey Club and the Supreme Corned Beef Sandwich. There are also plenty of seats, stools, and flat screen TVs, but you are taken away from the action on the field.
Guaranteed Rate Field is located south of downtown off the Dan Ryan Expressway, but as soon as you park your car in the surrounding lots you are greeted by swarms of tailgaters tossing bags (cornhole), grilling, drinking a few beers, and decked out in Sox gear. Tailgating is somewhat uncommon at many major league ballparks, but on the southside of Chicago, it is a tradition. The facility is broken into the 100 and 500 sections. One of the benefits of purchasing a ticket in the lower 100 section is the ability to experience the ambiance of the lower level.
The lower section is the heart and soul of the place and there are various vantage points to make a day at Sox Park fabulous. The outfield concourse contains Legends Plaza, featuring nine life-sized bronze statues of former Sox players from Minnie Minoso, Carlton Fisk, Nellie Fox, to more recent stars like Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko. It’s a great spot to take a few photos and even watch the game from behind the center field wall. On certain nights, this area is Chicagoland’s largest outdoor bar.
There is also the Private Bank Fan Deck that provides a raised view of the game to private parties. However, there are times it is open to the general public.
The Bullpen Sports Bar is reminiscent of the old Comiskey Park picnic area and is open to customers 21 and over. The Sox Social Lounge features draft beer and outdoor deck seating for the game in the left field corner of the stadium.
The Chicago Sports Depot is the team’s official two-story team shop offering much more than Chisox gear. Add this to the four other merchandise stands inside the concourse of the stadium and you are destined to go home with a souvenir like a 1976 Bill Veeck-inspired leisure suite style Sox jersey for $299.99.
The 500 section of the ballpark features nods to old Comiskey Park. The canopy is painted dark gray featuring colorful murals of former White Sox players, All-Star programs, and yearbooks on the brick walls. The seats are steep, a painful reminder of 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s stadium construction. There is still a great food selection in the upper section, but it is not as varied as the lower level.
The neighborhood is what Guaranteed Rate Field gets knocked for most. Yes, it is not Wrigleyville, but then again there are 28 other ballparks that don’t have the surroundings comparable to Wrigleyville. Bridgeport is a residential neighborhood that features affordable housing, small bars and restaurants, and is located near Chinatown. There are a few places within walking distance of the stadium to visit before or after the game. Grandstand Sports is another amazing Sox paraphernalia store. The place is bursting at the seams with White Sox gear from every era, including authentic Mitchell and Ness team jerseys, gear for pets, and the best selection of caps.
There is a collection of local neighborhood eateries that includes the Bridgeport Restaurant offering Greek and American cuisine and homemade soup, Schaller’s Pump that is a great hangout after a game offering cornbeef and cabbage, Reggie’s Music Joint offering live music and 24 beers on tap, and Maxwell Street Depot, where you can grab a variety of hot dogs and sausages at the walk up counter.
However, if you are looking for more excitement, then head to the West Loop, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Magnificent Mile, or even Wrigleyville. Just remember that the neighborhood around Guaranteed Rate Field is not a dump as you might have heard from other ballpark travelers, and it has changed over the past 25 years and continues to improve.
The South Loop Hotel, Amber Inn, and Hyatt Regency McCormick Place are your closest hotels to the ballpark. The South Loop Hotel offers free secured parking and is close to the L. The Chinatown Hotel is a small budget facility that is inexpensive compared to other hotels in Chicago.
Sox fans are among the most underrated group of baseball fans in the country. Sure, they do not pack the stadium every day like they do on the northside of town, but then again Guaranteed Rate Field is not a tourist attraction, nor is it surrounded by numerous bars and restaurants in an ultra trendy neighborhood. White Sox fans will support you during the great years, become frustrated when the team loses, but will fight if you have anything negative to say about the Pale Hose. They are blue collar, hard working individuals who pass down their allegiance between generations. They have witnessed pennant chase heartbreaks, the 1967 Hitless Wonders held onto first place until the final four days of the season, and the Winning Ugly Sox who were upset in the ALCS in 1983. The fans move on and do not lament about the losses. They are not superstitious and blame black cats and goats for their team playoff woes like their northside neighbors.
Guaranteed Rate Field 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.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets for Sox games Monday to Saturday start at $7, this regulates the customer to the upper 500 section of the facility, but it is definitely a bargain for a Major League Baseball game. On Sundays, those same tickets will only cost $5 a person. Tickets in the upper deck average around $20 a person for most games, bleacher seats cost between $23-$30 per game, while tickets between 1st and 3rd base start as low as $25 and peak as high as $75. Parking is $20 for all games, except $10 for Sunday games. There are indeed various price points for fans, the hardest decision is whether or not you want to make it a cheap or expensive night at the park.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the experience at Guaranteed Rate Field:
One extra point for the outfield concourse that is open and spacious with various concession stands and booths, bronze statues of former Sox All-Stars, and the original shower from the old ballpark. An additional extra point for the reduced price of parking for Sunday afternoon games. A family of four on a budget can spend $30 for tickets and parking alone before entering the ballpark, including a $9.50 nacho plate for sharing, and a game at Guaranteed Rate Field will not set you back. It will cost you a lot more on the northside of town at Wrigley Field.
One extra point for the tailgating. With the exception of Miller Park in Milwaukee where tailgating was seemingly invented at old County Stadium, this is quite a unique experience before a baseball game. Fans toss bags, cook on the grill, and throw down a few beers before entering the game.
One final extra point for the great selection of food throughout the stadium that includes Italian beef and Cuban sandwiches, Irish nachos, grilled Italians and Polishes, and 12-scoop banana split sundaes served in a batting helmet. The prices are reasonable, many are even large enough to share, and they are prepared to your liking.
The home of the Chicago White Sox has never been regarded as one of the better stadiums in the league. Its predecessor was once described as a “docked paddle-wheel steamer.” However, the team has made ample improvements in the course of the stadium’s 25 seasons that have resulted in more than a few fan friendly areas. In other words, this is not the dump as many have stated. The tailgating, array of food, and ticket prices make Guaranteed Rate Field a ballpark that should not be overlooked on your stadium journeys.
Food and Drink Recommendations
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