Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 11:17AM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 12:05PM
Chicago White Sox
U.S. Cellular Field
Chicago, Ill. :: Opened: 1991 :: Capacity: 40,615
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Average Ticket Price: $26.19
Average Cost of Concessions and Souvenirs: $86.50
How expensive is stadium parking? FREE: 2% $5-$10: 3% $10-$15: 24% $15-$20: 62% More than $20: 7%
Is public transportation a viable option? Never: 5% Worth it if you have a lot of time and patience: 7% A good option to avoid rush hour: 25% Pretty easy if you know the system well: 38% The only way to go: 24%
How would you rate traffic getting to and from the game? To the game: A slow-moving parking lot: 13% Slow, but usually steady: 31% Moves well outside of rush hour: 35% Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 16% A smooth ride at all times: 3%
From the game: A slow-moving parking lot: 19% Slow, but usually steady: 38% Moves well outside of rush hour: 21% Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 16% A smooth ride at all times: 3%
How would you rate the number of restrooms for men and women? Bring a map: 2% It depends on the section: 2% Never more than a short walk away: 18% A satisfactory amount: 26% Plenty: 44%
How long is the wait to use a bathroom? Always available: 38% 1-5 minutes: 54% 5-10 minutes: 7% More than 10 minutes: 1%
How would you rate the variety of food/beer concession options? Limp hot dogs, bland peanuts, even blander beer: 2% Nothing fancy, but the staple foods are tasty: 2% A little variety of food and drinks available at specific locations: 10% A nice variety but locations are spread out: 17% You name it, they have it around almost every corner: 70%
How much will a meal at the ballpark cost you? $5-$10: 26% $10-$20: 61% $20-$30: 8% $30-$40: 3% More than $40: 2%
How would you rate the entertainment options aside from the game? Nonexistent: 2% So many games/promotions and scoreboard highlights that the game is lost in the background: 6% Typical mascot antics/scoreboard quizzes and fun music: 16% Some unique promotions/antics, but it sometimes distracts from the game: 15% A nice balance that draws your attention when the game is stopped but doesn't distract from the action on the field: 59%
Once a soulless template for the Camden Yards and Jacobs Fields to come, new Comiskey -- now U.S. Cellular -- has "gotten much better, in the last five years." Statues of past White Sox greats such as Nellie Foxx and Luis Aparicio stand beyond the outfield fence. A shower among the seats, reminiscent of the Bill Veeck-installed shower in old Comiskey, is a "welcome carryover." And a new Fundamentals Deck in left field lets kids "hit, throw and run bases while parents enjoy an incredible view of the game." That isn't the case from the upper deck, whose steep height and recessed position leaves patrons with a view that "stinks." Long known for its "blue collar" fans, the Sox's World Series win in 2005 has attracted a hearty helping of "bandwagon fans. But having them isn't always a bad thing -- it's great when the ballpark is full of people." Bring your appetite to the game because "food at the Cell is among the best anywhere." Kosher dogs with grilled onions are "the best on the planet," popcorn in "delicious" and the corned-beef sandwich is "top notch." "I come here just to eat sometimes." Man, life is good when you're the reigning king of baseball, ain't it?
Anyone wondering why the Sox don't have near the appeal of their woeful National League brother on the North Side need only travel the vacant blocks around U.S. Cellular Field to understand. "Anything right outside of the park is a no-go," outside of perhaps Jimbo's, one of the only taverns in the area (although a possible eviction from its premises was in the air as of this September). "Don't stray from the park if you don't know the neighborhood -- you will get into trouble real quick." Perhaps a smarter move might be to "take the red line [El] train north someplace; the Bronx has nothing on the South Side of Chicago."
2006 record: 82-61 (all statistics through Sept. 10) Players worth the price of admission: Jermaine Dye (.328 Avg., 41 HRs, 112 RBIs), Paul Konerko (.312 Avg., 32 HRs, 103 RBIs), Bobby Jenks (39 saves, 3.78 ERA, 71 Ks).
We have to give the ChiSox a lot of credit for turning a park that originally had all the charm of a mini-mall into a pretty good baseball destination. Certainly having a World Series trophy helps, but so does the addition of a kids' activities area as well as embracing the legacy of old Comiskey Park with a quirky outfield shower and new green seats. Offering a smorgasbord of tasty food also buys a lot of goodwill. Teams such as the White Sox and the Angels prove that a new park isn't always necessary to draw fans if you have a little creativity and show a commitment to your fans.