baseball

Baseball Stadiums: U.S. Cellular Field

After visiting the Kane County Cougars (read about visit here) to start my week in Chicago during the AAG Annual Meeting, I got to attend a Chicago White Sox game to close out my week.  The day prior to attending the game, I led a field trip on a tour of the stadium, but will only be writing about my experience at the baseball game here.

For those unfamiliar with baseball in Chicago, one of the great advantages of the city and its stadiums is that you can access both ballparks using mass transit.  After meeting with some colleagues at the conference hotel, we walked to the CTA’s “L” Red Line to travel south.  Following our 30-minute commute the first sight we saw of U.S. Cellular Field was from the platform on the other side of the interstate.

View of U.S. Cellular Field with the Dan Ryan Expressway in the foreground.

While walking to get my tickets at will call, I got to explore the exterior of the stadium.  The coolest thing I saw was a street sign for former owner Bill Veeck.  He is a controversial figure in baseball history, but is arguably one of the greatest marketing innovators.

Coolest street sign outside U.S. Cellular Field.

In addition to Veeck, the White Sox commemorate their 2005 World Series win with multiple pieces in a plaza.

Sculpture commemorating key moments of the White Sox 2005 playoffs run.

U.S. Cellular Field opened in 1991, replacing Comiskey Park, which had been home to the Pale Hose since 1910.  The only remnants of Comiskey Park is a marker for home plate and foul lines that are painted into the now parking lot.

A marker showing the location of home plate at old Comiskey Park.

After hitting all the highlights outside the stadium, I finally entered through the main entrance on the north side of the ballpark.

Main entrance at Gate 5.

The White Sox have eight statues on the outfield concourse to honor former players and one for former owner Charles Comiskey.  I took photos of each statue, but don’t want to inundate people with that many consecutive photos.  Instead, I’m going to focus on the Hall of Fame figures associated with the White Sox.

Owner Charles Comiskey (1900-1931) was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
Shortstop Luis Aparicio (left) and second baseman Nellie Fox (right). Aparicio (1956-1962, 1968-1970) was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, and Fox (1950-1963) was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
Catcher Carlton Fisk (1981-1993) was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
First baseman Frank Thomas (1990-2005) was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.

Although I had no need for it on a chilly April evening, the coolest feature on the outfield concourse is the Old Comiskey Park Shower.  Installed at Comiskey Park in 1976, the shower offers fans with a great way to cool off during hot summer days.

I did not use the shower, but had to get my photo taken inside this piece from Comiskey Park.

After receiving a fantastic discount on tickets negotiated by the AAG, I enjoyed the game from the first base line.

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana delivering the first pitch to Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar.

With seats along the first base line, I had a great view of the scoreboard and video board in the outfield.

Center field videoboard with pinwheels and scoreboard in left center.

I also got a good view of the upper deck and left field bleachers from my seat.

A view of the left field bleachers.

One of the more interesting banners on the light towers was the set commemorating the White Sox’s 2005 World Series title.

Out-of-town scoreboard with banners honoring the White Sox’s 2005 World Series title.

I also got a good view of the luxury suites and club seats behind home plate, which also features the White Sox’s retired numbers.

A view of the Home Plate Club, luxury suites, and the White Sox’s retired numbers.

While exploring the concourse I had a couple of local craft beers.  The White Sox have a good selection of local and regional beers.  I opted for Two Brothers’s (Warrenville, Ill.)  Ebel’s Weiss and Great Lakes’s (Cleveland, Ohio) Eliot Ness, which were great precursors to my food choice.  I wasn’t sure what to order, but ultimately decided on the Comiskey Burger.

Comiskey Burger as the rain starts to come down.

While I did not eat the burger in the stands because the precipitation had changed from sleet into a steady rain, but I had to get my customary photo of my food with the ballpark in the background.  The Comiskey Burger features two beef patties topped with Merkt’s cheddar cheese and “Chi-town pico,” which includes tomato, neon green relish, white onion, Kosher pickle, and sport pickle (all the ingredients found on a Chicago-style hot dog).  Needless to say, the burger is very messy to eat, but it is delicious!  In fact, I’m wishing I had one right now because I’m so hungry I could devour one again.

Due to the rain, most of the group I attended the game with migrated onto the concourse and eventually we found empty seats under the overhang.  It was amazing that the umpires did not call the game sooner than they did, but eventually in the top of the 9th inning after White Sox closer David Robertson had completed his warmup pitches the crew chief called for the tarp to be put on the field.

Our group decided that after enduring sleet and some rain that we would depart the stadium instead of waiting out a potential rain delay.

View of the tarp from behind home plate.

By the time I arrived at my hotel room, I found out the game was suspended and would be completed the next day before the regularly scheduled game.  So while I was disappointed that I did not get to see the conclusion of the game, I am not upset about the decision to leave at the time we did.

For a stadium built just before the retro craze kicked off in the mid-90s, U.S. Cellular Field has been massively renovated numerous times.  For old-time Chicago fans it may not have the same character as old Comiskey Park, but it definitely has its charm and has excellent food and beverage choices to go along with some good customer service.  The best part of the customer service is the ability to get a certificate printed with your name on it to commemorate your first visit to the stadium.  With that in mind Go Go Sox!

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Categories: baseball, Illinois, MLB

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