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U.S. Cellular Field

 

History

Debuted in 1991 as the new home of the Chicago White Sox, U.S. Cellular Field (then known as "New" Comiskey Park) was built across 35th Street from its predessor and namesake, the original Comiskey Park.

 

Originally, the park was a smash hit, as Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson noted, "everyone's going to want one of these." He was only partially correct. Though Comiskey Park was the first of the wave of new ballparks debuted in the early and mid-1990s, it did not remain the industry standard for more than a few months. In 1992, the Baltimore Orioles unveiled Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and its "retro" features soon became all the rage, and the model which followers such as PNC Park or Ameriquest Field would seek to replicate.

 

The excitement of the new park and the winning product on the field contributed to the early success of the park. In its first season, the White Sox attracted 2,934,154 fans, setting a franchise record for attendance that still stands today. In 1993, it saw its first taste of October baseball, as the White Sox won the American League West title and hosted Games 1,2, and 6 of the ALCS - all losses to the eventual World Champion Toronto Blue Jays.

 

he 1994 player's strike, lack of success on the field, and fading public opinion of the park all led to a downfall in the team's attendance. The park was soon labeled as a "Ball Mall" and a sterile, unfriendly environment. Everything was criticized, fairly or unfairly; from the giant, expressway-sized billboards that lined the outfield concourse, to the steepness of the upper deck (despite the fact that upper deck in Cleveland's Jacobs Field is just as steep). Comiskey Park hosted post-season baseball again in 2000. The White Sox lost both Games 1 and 2 in front of their home crowd en route to a sweep at the feet of the Seattle Mariners.

 

The White Sox finally addressed the concerns about the park with a number of renovations, starting in 2001 and continuing until today. Many changes have occurred, the most striking including:

 

The bullpens have been moved in plain sight of the field, just behind the outfield walls.

The old batter's eye was redesigned and includes a "Fan Deck" at the top that offers one of the best seats in any stadium anywhere.

 

The main scoreboard and ribbon boards that run around the bottom of the upper deck have been replaced and are now some of the most hi-tech scoreboards in use.

 

6,600 seats were removed from the Upper Deck to make way for a new, more tradition-styled flat roof that tops off the Upper Deck.

314 "Scout" seats have been added directly behind the catcher.

 

The White Sox replaced all the blue seats in the park with new, green seats, a la Old Comiskey Park.

 

On January 31, 2003, the White Sox announced they had sold the naming rights of the park to U.S. Cellular (a mobile telephone company). The park made its debut as "The Cell", as it has become known in Chicago, on April 4, 2003 in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers (the same team that helped open the park 12 years earlier). On July 15, 2003, U.S. Cellular Field hosted the All-Star Game for the first time in the park's history; it was the first time the game had been held on the South Side since 1983. Two years later, the park again played host to October baseball, as the 2005 White Sox marched to the franchise's first World Championship since 1917. The park hosted Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series. The White Sox went 7-1 in the playoffs, winning their first home playoff game since 1959 in their 14-2 rout of the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALDS.

 

Attractions:

  • PrivateBank Fan Deck: A panoramic view of the playing field on the two-tiered Fan Deck atop the center field concession stands. Fan Deck packages include catered food and beverage service consisting of chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, popcorn, beer, soda, and water (featuring Miller and Pepsi products). Fan deck can accommodate around 150 people and is available for private group outings.
  • Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar: Located in right field next to the visitor's bullpen. Food, drinks and, for a nominal charge, sit in the two-tiered, open-air section, also used for group outings.
  • Rain Room: A place where fans can cool off during hot gamedays. Near section 107 & 537.
  • Comcast Fundamentals Deck: Located in left field. This 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) Comcast Fundamentals area is devoted to young White Sox fans, providing them with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of baseball from Chicago White Sox Training Academy coaches. It features a youth-sized whiffle ball diamond for coaching clinics, batting and pitching cages, batting "swing" boxes for proper batting techniques and areas for base running and skills instruction.
  • Mighty Bites Speed Pitch Machines: Near Section 164 and in the Fundamentals Deck.
  • Majestic Custom T-Shirt Shop: The Majestic Custom T-Shirt Shop stocks various White Sox items from t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts to memorabilia and souvenirs. Customers have their choice of design, size and item to customize and make your own, printed while you wait. Located at sections 123 and 542.
  • New ERA Cap Corner: Baseball caps of all colors, styles and sizes in a wide variety of team logos. Near Section 157.

Chicagoland Plumbing Council Shower: A carry-over from old Comiskey Park where fans can cool off during hot gamedays. Near Section 160.

  • United Scout Seats: Located directly behind home plate and contains 314 leather seats. Scout seats offers ticket holders behind-the-scenes access to the ballpark and the world-class amenities for one-inclusive price.
  • The Patio: Located just behind the right center field fence at field level. The patio serves for group outings such as the Bullpen Sports Bar and can accommodate from 50 to 100 people.
  • Diamond Suites: Accommodates 20 to 60 people. Diamond Suite menus include pan-seared chicken with roasted potatoes, roast beef and turkey sandwiches, mixed green salad, hot dogs, dry roasted peanuts, a fresh fruit assortment, beer and soft drinks (featuring Miller and Pepsi products).
  • Miller Lite Extra Base/Upper Terrace Suite: Accommodates from 70 to 400 people in either of the White Sox party rooms. Both areas offer climate-controlled interior space with banquet-style seating, flat-screen televisions, private restrooms, and an outside seating area. Packages include game tickets and catering.
  • Jim Beam Club: Located behind home plate. Features include a restaurant buffet, open bar, in-seat menu and wait service, concierge service, access to private lounge, open air seating in padded, extra-wide 22” seats, private restrooms, flat-screen televisions throughout the club and seating area, private elevator entrance behind home plate at Gate 4, invitations to private on-field events and member parties, early admittance into the ballpark for select games to watch White Sox batting practice from the outfield, priority presale opportunities and former player appearances in the Jim Beam Club lounge.
  • The Stadium Club: A fine dining restaurant located in right field.

Minnie Miñoso Sculpture: Located behind Section 164.

  • Carlton Fisk Sculpture: Located behind Section 164.
  • Charles Comiskey Sculpture: Located behind Section 100.
  • Luis Aparicio Sculpture: Located behind Section 100.
  • Nellie Fox Sculpture: Located behind Section 100.
  • Billy Pierce Sculpture: Located behind Section 164.
  • Harold Baines Sculpture: Located behind Section 105.

Old Comiskey Park's home plate: Located just north of the park by Gate 5 in Lot B.

  • "TBD's Sports Garden": A Beer Garden located outside at Gate 5. TBD's is open on gamedays to all fans, 21 years and older (a game ticket purchase is not necessary for admission to TBD's). The outdoor beer garden opens two hours before the start of each home game, and remains open one hour after the final out. The area serves beer, wine, soda and water. TBD's also includes 12 flat-screen TVs.

 

White Sox Champions Brick Plaza

 

Each legacy brick is inscribed with a personalized message that has become part of a new baseball diamond-shaped plaza outside the main entrance to the ballpark. A life-sized white bronze and granite sculpture celebrating the 2005 White Sox World Series Championship that stands at the center of the plaza, with a historical timeline of the franchise along the diamond's base paths. The statue weighs over 25 tons.

 

On April 11, 2008, the White Sox paid tribute to the 2005 World Series championship squad by unveiling a new plaza and monument detailing the title run.

 

Prior to the game against the rival Detroit Tigers, team officials, local luminaries, former White Sox players and fans showed up to view the uncovering of the Champions Moments monument in Champions Plaza, located outside of Gate 4 at U.S. Cellular Field. The diamond-shaped plaza contains legacy bricks, which are inscribed with fan messages and memories. The plaza also chronicles the key moments in franchise history.

 

Among those in attendance were then-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Kenny Williams, as well as former White Sox greats Harold Baines, Ron Kittle, Billy Pierce and Joey Cora. Several current players also came out to witness the unveiling.

 

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of the structure: "It's awesome. You see the way they etched the players in and put the photos in it. It's going to be here for a long time. When my kids grow up, they can always come here and look at it."

 

Large bronze images of Joe Crede, Paul Konerko, Juan Uribe, Geoff Blum and Orlando "El Duque" Hernández stand out prominently on the monument. Each image symbolizes a key moment during the team's run to the World Series title.

 

"For the fans to come out and brave [the weather], it's a testament to what kind of fans they are," Pierzynski said of the number of fans in attendance.

 

Blagojevich, who is a fan of the crosstown-rival Cubs, was booed after being announced. But he took it all in stride during his speech. "I sure am glad this isn't an election year for me," Blagojevich quipped.

 

Proceeds from the sale of the legacy bricks went to White Sox charities. The organization then announced details for the second round of brick sales.

 

The white bronze and black granite monument was constructed by local sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of The Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany.

 

Accessibility:

U.S. Cellular Field can be reached by using the CTA's "L" Rapid Transit system. The stadium's station stops are Sox–35th for the Red Line and 35-Bronzeville-IIT for the Green Line. The Red Line is also used by Cubs fans to reach Wrigley Field (Addison Station) on the North side of Chicago. When the White Sox take on the Cubs every year, usually in June, many fans will use the Red-Line to get to the game. The series dubbed the Cross-Town Classic or the Windy City Showdown. A new Metra station will open on the Rock Island line in December 2010, which will help fans with more accessibility.

 

U.S. Cellular Field is just west of the I-90/94 Dan Ryan Expressway. The "Dan Ryan" was under construction in 2006-2007 in hopes of relieving traffic congestion.

 

The park has seven main entrances. Gate One is located on the South side of the park in right field, Gate Two is located on the Southwest side of the park down the right field line, Gate Three is located on the West side of the park on the 1st base side, Gate Four is on the Northwest side of the park behind home plate, Gate Five is located on the North side of the park on the 3rd base side, Gate Six is located on the Northeast side of the park down the left field line and Gate Seven is located on the East side of the park in left field.

 

The main level is accessible only by fans who have a ticket to a seat in the lower level.

 

The park has 8 main parking lots.

 

  • The Two Blue Seats: The seats where Paul Konerko's Grand Slam (left field in section 159) and Scott Podsednik's walk off home run (right center first row in section 101) that landed in game two of the 2005 World Series are the same original blue seats in use at that game.
  • White Sox Champions Brick Plaza: Located at the main entrance to the park, (Gate 4). The plaza is dedicated to the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox and their fans.

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Tagged:
2005 World Series, Carlton Fisk, Chicago White Sox, Jerry Reinsdorf

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