Guaranteed Rate Field - Chicago White Sox
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Guaranteed Rate Field 333 W 35th St Chicago, IL 60616
Chicago White Sox website Guaranteed Rate Field website
Year Opened: 1991 Capacity: 40,615
Good Times on the Southside
Guaranteed Rate Field debuted as Comiskey Park II in 1991 and, for the past 30 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 hearts off to ensure 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 have altered the 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
Guaranteed Rate Field offers a variety of food, from Chicago favorites to items made for the ballpark. There are numerous kiosks, eating areas, social spots, and the newly named Leinenkugel Craft Lodge and Vizzy View Bar. It's advisable to walk around first before making a selection.
The standards are still here, including Comiskey dogs and burgers, Cuban sandwiches, Italian beef, tavern-style pizza slices, street tacos, brats, tamales, and nachos. Sweet treats include ice cream, Italian ice, and churros. The best spot for a slice or two is at the Beggar’s Pizza area in the outfield, which features tables and views of the game.
The new items include cheddar perogies, pretzel-wrapped brats, The Heater (a jalapeno sausage topped with coleslaw and sriracha mayo), and deli sandwiches that include an Italian grinder and turkey club, and a carvery stand. The Smokehouse on the outfield concourse has a wonderful aroma and features smoked chicken wings and bbq nachos.
The White Sox cut ties with Goose Island Beer Co. and Revolution Brewing as sponsors and announced Miller Lite and Molson Coors. The latter will be “the official domestic beer, official craft beer, and an official hard seltzer partner of the White Sox.” It also means that the giant goose head has been removed from the area, but the old repurposed CTA car with 12 taps and cascading water down the concourse are still there.
The Leinenkugel Craft Lodge (formerly the Kraft Kave) is located on the ground level behind the visitor’s bullpen, offering a full-service wait staff and 75 beers from 46 different area breweries. Fans can pick them out of the refrigerators and enjoy them in the full-service restaurant. However, tables are packed with fans enjoying craft-made burgers and sandwiches.
The #SoxSocial Tap Room has been renamed the Vizzy View Bar and scaled back a bit compared to other years. The area still provides patio views of the game, plus different food items inside the air-conditioned tap room. The Old No. 7 Bar, sponsored by Jack Daniels, offers various drinks, hard liquor, and other libations with TVs and tabletop seating.
Two hours before the start of the game, fans line up in 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. Legacy Bricks are inscribed with a personalized message on the plaza.
Once inside, the main concourse from the first to third baseline 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 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 above the left-center concourse overlooking the playing field that provides instruction on the game. Kids 12 and under can utilize the plaza with a youth-sized Wiffle ball diamond along with batting and pitching cages accessible from the 100, 300, and 500 levels. The best part about it is 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 a nod to old Comiskey Park. The canopy is painted dark gray, and colorful murals of former White Sox players, All-Star programs, paintings, 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 later in the game.
The Chicago Sports Depot is the team’s official two-story team shop offering much more than Chisox gear. Before the game, the ChiSox Bar & Grill offers a full-service bar with food and drink with outside patio seating. If you arrive a little earlier and aren't tailgating, this might be the spot for you to get into the mood before the first pitch.
The White Sox cut ties with Goose Island Beer Co. and Revolution Brewing as sponsors and announced Miller Lite and Molson Coors. The latter will be “the official domestic beer, official craft beer, and an official hard seltzer partner of the White Sox.” It also means that the giant goose head has been removed from the area, but the old repurposed CTA car with 12 taps and cascading water down the concourse are still there. It is now called the Miller Lite Landing.
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 TVs and a large open patio that opens three hours before the game. The menu 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, which 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, which is open from 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, which 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 catering 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 provided stories of the season’s past. At the game, they are focused on the field and hope that within the beginning of the next decade.
The stadium 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; 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 Craft Lodge.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a single-game ticket for the 500 section averages around $13 for many games, but that will depend on the date, opponent, and second-site markets. The most affordable days are Coca-Cola Family Sundays, where tickets begin at $10, and parking is $15.
Other options include the Bleacher & Brews ticket, where fans can purchase a ticket and two beers starting at $27 for a bleacher ticket. Southside Mondays offer special tickets where fans receive up to $20 in concession credit added to their mobile ticket. The food prices are common with many other ballparks, but parking is almost a deal compared to other big city MLB markets.
If you are looking to save money on parking, Buffalo Wings and Rings offers 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 earns a point for 75 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 Sox earn a second point for Sunday Family Days, including $15 parking, tickets starting at $10 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 $10 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 third point is for tailgating activities in the parking lot, along with having a few drinks or food in the ChiSox Grill before the game.
The Sox earn a fourth point for the statues of former team greats from Luis Aparicio to Frank Thomas; a total of 9 figures provide fans a chance to pose for pictures and learn about these all-time greats.
The South Siders 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 works, and on a hot day, might be the best way to cool off.
The Chicago White Sox has been working very hard to improve the amenities at the stadium. The past few seasons have seen renovations to the concourse concerning 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.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com