Two USRT visits here..our first stop in 2000, to "Comiskey Park", and the second time to the
renovated and retrofitted "US Cellular Field". The team did a five phase renovation to change
the look of this place and soften the appearance, making it less of a "stadium" and more of a
"ballpark".  

*OK side story here from our "official" first stop*
Our return flight had us going out of KC--connecting through Chicago/Midway and getting
into Buffalo around 4pm... so when we turn on Sportscenter on Monday morning and hear
"...and game 1 of the division series between the White Sox and the Mariners will open
Tuesday at 4 pm at Comiskey Park...", guess what we did?
Yep.. we changed our connecting flight from Chicago to Buffalo to a late flight - got off at
Midway, took the rail line and that deposited us right to the front door of Comiskey Park...
we got some tickets outside.. FACE VALUE no less... what luck! and there we were!

US Cellular Field is the legendary home of one baseball's most storied franchises - the
Chicago White Sox. This venue replaced the "old" Comiskey Park, which was located right
next door and had housed the team since 1911. The "new" Comiskey was opened in 1991.
The first thing we learned is that the Cubs rule the north side of Chicago, while Sox fans
are most likely to come from the south side. Yet even though it is Wrigley Field that gets
most of the attention and adulation, US Cellular Field is really not all that bad a place to see a
game, and there is plenty here in the way of fan amenities and things to see to make one's
day at the ballpark complete. Most importantly, they did a great job with their renovation here,
taking out the top rows of the upper deck and erecting an old style roof with steel arches (and
posts), concourse renovations, significant upgrades to the outfield and it all results in a nicely
put together baseball place.

Getting to the venue
Finding Comiskey Park is a snap, but with Chicago's infamous traffic snarls, getting here is
another issue entirely. The venue is situated right along the Dan Ryan Expressway, a few
miles south of downtown. Take the 35th street exit, and you are there. A massive marquee
and dot matrix board can be seen right from the expressway. Very cool and you can't miss
this place.  Better yet, ride the CTA rail line... the red line will drop you off just a block away
from the ballpark, with no parking or driving hassles.

Outside the venue
Well, there is plenty of parking here, although the lots nearest the ballpark are reserved for
season ticket holders or pass holders. Cash parking runs $17. Just west of the ballpark are
neighborhoods with several scattered private lots, and cheaper parking is available there.
Plenty of souvenir stands and souvenir vendors outside the ballpark, but curiously, not a
single refreshment vendor to be found. Maybe we were looking in the wrong places. And
yes, there are some tailgaters in the lots. Nice to see tailgating at a baseball venue! Beyond
the parking peripheries are residential neighborhoods.

The building and concourses
The stadium itself is a pretty imposing structure - tan granite facade and massive smoked
glass arched windows grace the entire exterior of the building. One can find ramps on both
the left and right field sides, and from left field there are also bridges to take fans over the
street and into those parking lots without having to impede street traffic. Concourses here
are easy to walk around, although the main concourse at field level has a very low ceiling and
can be somewhat claustrophobic. The outfield concourse is very wide, nicely appointed
concession stands, a viewing deck above the batter's eye, old fashioned light fixtures and
hanging plants...it all feels like kind of a Disney boardwalk. Statues of several Sox greats and
founder Charlie Comiskey are also placed here.

The upper concourse sports a continual mural running the entire length, and here is where
White Sox history and even old neighborhood pictures are wonderfully displayed. They are
grouped in specific themes dealing with Entertainment, Transportation, and Neighborhoods.
To tour and enjoy the entire exhibit would take hours.

The seating bowl
The ballpark sports three decks for seating - lower level includes a pretty large outfield
seating area which spans the entire ballpark. There is a small club level porch running from
foul pole to foul pole, and suites underneath and above the club porch. Now that the ballpark
has been renovated, the upper deck is smaller and more intimate.

The panoramic outfield is centered by a large scoreboard/video board, along with two
companion dot matrix boards as well as matching ad panels, all brought together within a
massive steel framework. The pin wheel "exploding scoreboard" concept was brought over
from the old Comiskey. Digital LED ribbon boards run across the first and third base side
balconies.  And of course, from most seats you can get a nice view of the expressway and the
neighborhoods beyond, and see for yourself how slowly traffic moves in this city.

New to the ballpark is a two level area above left field called "Pontiac Fundamentals" This  is a
game and baseball skills areas designed for youngsters, and the whole setup overlooks the
playng surface below. Nicely done!

Concessions
What they have done woth the concession stands is name them after baseball greats -
"Luzinski's Sausage", "Larussa's Pizzeria" just to name a couple. The ice cream stand here is
named "Winning Ugly Is Sweet"." Sweet!. There is a grille offering steak and chicken
sandwiches, another offering deli carved sandwiches, but the grilled sausage stands every
other section, offering sizzling Polish sausage and fried onions, the great smell wafting
everywhere!

In the right field corner below  the main concourse is a pub called the Bullpen Sports Bar. Food
menu, full bar service and a great view of the field including an outdoor patio area. Get here
early though this place fills up fast. Behind home plate on the lower concourse is the main
team store, with smaller kiosks, a jersey store and a kids gift shop located in other areas of
the venue.

Premium seating
In addition to the traditional club seating/suite configuration, there is a private Stadium
Club high above the right field corner. Season memberships are available to all season
ticket holders, and this area offers fine dining and lounges with a great view of the field. Added
with the renovations are "Scout Seats" behind home plate, with waiter service at the seats.

Banners/retired numbers
Check out the main team store, because right adjacent is a really cool White Sox Hall of
Fame with great displays and memorabilia. The Sox championship flags  fly proudly above the
outfield scoreboard structures. On th left field wall is a mural of the team's retired numbers.  
Nellie Fox, Luke Appling, Harold Baines, Minnie Minoso, Billy Pierce, Ted Lyons, Carlton Fisk
and Luis Aparicio have received the team's ultimate honor.

Home runs, hits, errors

Home run - The parking lot just north of US Cellular Field  is the site of the old ballpark. If you
look hard enough, here you can find an outline of the baselines, marked into the pavement,
anda replica of home plate is embedded into the concrete at the actual spot where home place
stood. Well done! Celebrate your history and your legacy!!

Home run - (on our first visit)to the two young ladies who parted with their extra tickets, at face
value!! This was the first playoff game at Comiskey since '93, playoff fever was running high,
and we thought we'd have to pay through the nose to get in the building. Wish we had gotten
your names, but thanks from the road trippers, nonetheless!

Hit - No need to run it on this day, but in several locations one can find a "rain room", offering
misting stations to cool off fans on a hot day. Pete and his sister Katy were here back in '97, he
can tell you how hot it can get here!

Error -(on our first visit) to the White Sox, who had this place rocking early on with big home
runs but could not hang on. The game went extra innings, and ended badly for the home crowd
when Seattle got 3 runs in the top of the 10th to break the tie. We were on the clock by then. We
had a train and a plane to catch so we watched the 10th from the standing room area in left
field. When the Mariners hit that 10th inning bomb, a girl standing next to us actually began
weeping...

Hit- longtime Sox catcher and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk was the guest of honor on our return
visit as a statue of him was unveiled at center field during the pregame.

Hit.....and how fitting was it that the USRT karma struck in the form of a 3-1 win over the
Mariners, and with that the Sox earned their 72nd (Fisk's uniform #) win of the season.

Hit - just about every club has an opening pregame video presentation, and here on the South
Side the Sox put on a dazzler. Your typical montage of Sox highlights from their history and trust
me, you gotta see it for yourself it's a real spine tingler.

Hit....again meeting up with more Wisconsin roadtrippers. We hung with Brian Borkenhagen
and Dan Steinhoff as they made their way through the Midwest on their own ballpark journey.
See yas in the 'Nati in a few weeks guys!

Error - we noticed the Division, League, and World Championship banners atop the outfield
facade and couldn't help but notice the missing World Championship banner from 1906 (won
by defeating those hated Northsiders).....was it stolen in the dead of night by Steve Bartman or
something???

Error - Green seats to come in '06......NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Summary
Much of the sentimentality and romance involving baseball in Chicago usually involves Wrigley
Field on the north side. But the fact is, US Cellular Field is really not such a bad place to come
and see a game either. It doesn't have the "Wrigleyville" neighborhood, but there is enough to
see and do inside the ballpark to make the day a pleasant one. The team's long and rich
history is wonderfully portrayed in terms of exhibits and displays, the food selection is great,
and they did the renovations just right, softening the look of the interior with brick accents, old
fashioned signage and light fixtures, a carnival like centerfield concourse, state of the art
electronics, and they bridge their past well with the pinwheel exploding scoreboard, a Bill
Veeck masterpiece. Nice, nice job, White Sox, we'll beat a path to your door any time!

SCORING:
Architecture 7
Food and team store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Ushers 4
Fan support 7
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 8
In game entertainment 8
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: Exploding scoreboard 2, Old Comiskeyhome plate 1; upper concourse murals 2;
Bullpen sports bar 1
TOTAL: 64
U.S. Cellular Field
#52   




Comiskey
Park   




Chicago,
Illinois   




October 3,
2000




Seattle
Mariners
at
Chicago
White Sox




Renamed U.S.
Cellular Field -
January, 2003



return
visit



August 7,
2005



Seattle
Mariners
at
Chicago
White Sox