Second City's Second Ballpark

Paul Swaney@@PaulSwaneySenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 23: Pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox celebrates after pitching a perfect game as he is grabbed by first baseman Josh Fields #7 against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on July 23, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rays 5-0, as Buehrle became the 18th pitcher in 132 years of major league baseball to throw a perfect game. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

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Many long-time White Sox fans continue to refer to the park as Comiskey, but when U.S. Cellular Field is referred to as “The Cell,” it conjures up images of a dark and foreboding fortress.  This image does not do the park justice.  It is a wide open structure with great sight lines and large concourses that will be enjoyed by most fans of the great sport of baseball.

FANFARE Score: 25

F ood & Beverage: 4

The Cell’s food choices reflect the diverse neighborhoods that surround the park.  Noticeably missing from this ethnic smorgasbord is a stand featuring Chinese food.  While there are no items that are truly unique, most of the offerings are of above average quality, and the variety should keep most fans’ tummies happy.

The beer selection is limited, with only a few non-macro options, and no local options to speak of.  Prices are generally ballpark reasonable.

A tmosphere: 4

This is a great park to sit and watch a game.  It’s also a great park if all you want to do is stroll around the concourse.  The views from the outfield are excellent, with some of the best bleacher seats in all of baseball.  Statues of great Sox players line the outfield sections, including; Minnie Minoso, Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Luis Aparicio, and Nellie Fox. 

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The upper deck has always seemed a bit steep to me, so if you have any fear of heights you may consider springing for lower level seats. 

Fireworks shoot from the scoreboard when a Sox player hits a home run, which is always fun for the kids, and adds to what is generally a festive atmosphere.  Most importantly, this was home to a World Series in 2005, and the façade to the freeway still proudly announces that fact.

N eighborhood: 3

When compared to its northern neighbor, in Wrigleyville, this would seem like a ghost town.  In truth, few neighborhoods compare to what the Cubs are fortunate to benefit from.  Standing on its own, U.S. Cellular is not surrounded by many options, leading to more tailgating than many parks.

However, for a fan who doesn’t mind a little walking, there are some passable, if not good, options that can be found.

Schaller’s Pump, located less than a mile from the park, is a throwback that has been open since 1881.  Don’t expect anything fancy, but if you want a filling meal, and a cheap beer on tap, then this may be the place for you.  Make sure you hit the ATM beforehand as they only accept cash.  This is the hangout for old school Sox fans.  Behind the bar there are pictures of old time baseball legends, making you feel nostalgic in preparation for a game.  Definitely a good spot to check out for pre-game.

Another great spot is Cobblestones Bar and Grill.  They offer free parking during White Sox games with a $20 minimum purchase.  It’s less than a mile walk to the park.  If you plan on drinking before the game or just getting one of their Muffaletta sandwiches, this is the recommended place to stop.  The sandwich is big enough for two people for only $8.  They offer only three beers on tap, but do a good job of offering a local option, and lighter option, and a cheap option (Pabst).

F ans: 4

I really think that Sox fans are some of the best around.  I noticed better than average courtesy when it came to walking around during action, and most fans were very much into the game.  Parking lots were rather full close to two hours before the game with tailgaters enjoying the comfortable fall weather.

The vast majority of fans stayed for the entire game.  While there has been a reputation that Sox fans can be a motley and raucous crew, I found the stands to be fine for a family atmosphere, and for the experienced and knowledgeable baseball fan.

A ccess: 4

There is plenty of parking, but it is more expensive than most, with many spots going for $25.  The park is easily accessible by taking the red line train from downtown to the 35th /Sox stop, but can be really crowded right after a game.

R eturn on Investment: 4

With the exception of parking, most items are very reasonable.  Most notably, the White Sox offer extremely affordable tickets.  They also offer half price tickets on Mondays, which hopefully will continue in 2010.

E xtra Points: 2

Extra points for the array of historical statues, and scoreboard fireworks.

Final Thoughts:

While Wrigley Field gets most of the attention in Chicago, U.S. Cellular Field is definitely worth checking out.  In some ways it can be considered the anti-Wrigley.  Most importantly though it’s a great place to watch one of baseball’s most historically significant teams.  

Paul Swaney is co-founder of Stadium Journey