May 4, 2024

White Sox Have Plans to Move to the Newest Proposed Neighborhood, The 78 

By Taylor Schultz and Rebekah Cheung
@redlineproject

Sox Park rendering imageA rendering of what the new Sox Park could look like. (Image courtesy Related Midwest)

An empty, abandoned railyard has become a part of Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s vision of transforming part of the plot of land into a bustling stadium for his team. 

This area is located in the South Loop, in a proposed addition to Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods called The 78. This ambitious proposal is faced with the looming funding needed—$1 billion in tax revenue, according to Reinsdorf.

The proposal has been met with mixed reviews from Chicago fans, experts and local business owners. 

Dr. Joshua Drucker, Professor of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago, said Reinsdorf might be getting the field of his dreams if the financing works itself out. 

“I think if the financing were worked out in a way that was in advantageous to somebody [Reinsdorf] he will be willing to move within Chicago,” Drucker said. 

The stadium would be moving about five miles north from its current home, Guaranteed Rate Field, just off the 35th Street Red Line Stop. 

While that distance is short, the finances aren’t. Who will be funding the new White Sox Stadium?

Reinsdorf stated that he would be willing to contribute $200 million toward funding the new stadium.

Scott Fawell, a White Sox season ticket-holder, said he is worried that Reinsdorf will bring the team to Nashville if he doesn’t get the funding he is hoping for. 

“I think we’re ultimately going to probably use the threat of moving to Nashville, because that’s what worked for him last time is, ‘Hey, I got to deal with St. Petersburg.’ If you don’t give me a stadium, I’m going home.” Fawell said. 

Both Fawell and Drucker don’t see a point for a new stadium. Guaranteed Rate Field was built in 1991 in the old Comiskey Park parking lot. It’s only 31 years old. 

“There’s really not a problem with the ballpark other than you know, maybe the location is not great,” Fawell said of the current stadium. 

Before Guaranteed Rate was built, Comiskey Park was falling apart structurally. There was a legitimate need to build a new stadium, unlike now, where there are no apparent structural problems. 

And if there was a problem, making small fixes would make more sense for taxpayers. So why the sudden urge for a brand-new stadium?

“Reinsdorf wants to move because he obviously sees dollar signs and make more money,” Fawell said. 

Railyard image

The railyard, location of the proposed Sox Park. (Photo/Rebekah Cheung)

As a season ticket-holder for 29 years, Fawell said he is fearful about how his seats would transfer over, for both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bears

When a team changes facilities, season ticket holders have a PSL (personal seat license). A PSL is a paid license that entitles season ticket holders to the right to repurchase season tickets for their previous seats.  

 “It’s a lot nicer, a more active area,” Fawell said. “It’s a lot like trying to do a lot like Wrigley that they had forever.”

At the current South Side stadium, the surrounding area is all parking lots. There are no restaurants or businesses in eyesight from the park. Unlike the Chicago Cubs’ field, Wrigley Field is surrounded by bars, restaurants, hotels, and a movie theater.

“Even if they’re losing [The Chicago Cubs] people like going to Wrigley, like going to the neighborhood, going to the bars and all those things that come with it, which you don’t have at all the ballpark Sox park now.”

Renderings released by Related Midwest in February, the developer of The 78, showcase the new stadium along the Chicago River and surrounded by other proposed buildings.


Video: Renderings of the new stadium


The presence of the current stadium has also contributed to the identity of the area, with the ballpark on the edge of Armour Square and bordering Bridgeport.  This sense of familiarity and baseball spirit remains strong in its community members, including Dolores Brann. A former resident of Bridgeport, Brann saw how the ballpark drew its community closer together.

“I don’t think it’s a very good idea at all. I can’t see what they would do with the new stadium because…[the current park is] very, very nice.” Brann said. “I liked it. Because I worked there. [You could] walk to the park.”

For those living in nearby communities, walking was an ideal way of going to see the White Sox play. If the stadium were to move to the South Loop, walking may not be a feasible option. 


Video: Google Earth flyover video from Guaranteed Rate Field to The 78


Alongside Reinsdorf’s proposal is Bears President Kevin Warren’s potential on his team moving to a proposed stadium situated along the lakefront, replacing Soldier Field. The Bears have stated that they would contribute over $2 billon from private funding to the project. 

Despite the private funding already secured for the proposed stadium, Illinois. Gov. J.B. Pritzker considers this project to be of low priority.

This proposal follows Warren’s original plan to have their 326-acre land in Arlington Heights transform into a stadium for the Bears. Drucker said he believes Warren’s plan will not go as smoothly as he hopes, considering both teams are seeking tax dollars for the projects.

“[The Bears] were trying to put pressure on the Chicago Park District [and the] City of Chicago to give them a better deal and now they’re coming back to that,” Drucker said.

Nick Caruolo, manager at Flo & Santos at 1310 S Wabash Ave says they would be excited if the proposal for a new White Sox stadium becomes reality. 

“We’re looking to get as much foot traffic as possible,” Caruolo said.  “We’re hoping not too many pizza spots, just like us, just more restaurants in general and more people wanting to come out to bring more business.”

But do the benefits of building both stadiums outweigh the costs?  In a statement by Gov. Pritzker to Reinsdorf and Warren, the advantages must be presented now to taxpayers to begin the large leap forward.

According to Baseball Reference, The Chicago White Sox’s attendance average has been drastically lower. In 2022, the average attendance was almost 25,000 people. Compared to 2024 the average attendance is 16,000 people per game. 

“I think I only went to 11 [games last season], which was really like the least I’ve ever gone, because they were just so bad. And the times I did go I’d be like, ‘Good God. I don’t know why I’m doing this.’”

The Chicago White Sox currently have the worst record in the MLB. As of April 29, 2024, the White Sox have won three games and have lost 20 games this season. 

“I think he’s [Reinsdorf] quite delusional right now.  Because there’s nothing wrong with the stadium. Taxpayers built it,” Fawell said. “The team is in complete disarray. The organization is just a giant nightmare. I mean, they’re sitting at two and 13 and with no you know, nothing positive in sight.”

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Your Thoughts

 

Uncertainty cloudsReinsdorf’s proposed stadium as taxpayers would bear the brunt of the funding required. If taxpayers are prioritized and the plan heads into a feasible direction, The 78 could be seeing a new White Sox stadium headed its way. Do you think a new stadium would benefit the public? Leave a comment below.

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