No. 15: Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago

Guaranteed Rate Field facade

Guaranteed Rate Field may have a terrible logo to be placed on a baseball stadium with a red downward arrow, but the stadium itself isn’t bad.

It’s not one of MLB’s great stadiums, but the home of the Chicago White Sox has excellent food, wonderful tributes to the franchise’s history, and some interesting attributes we enjoyed.

ACCESSIBILITY:

Patti says

There are many options for getting to a White Sox game. Doing so is especially easy and less expensive on a Sunday. The area is serviced by CTA’s Red Line and Green line, a Metra/Rock Island stop and a number of bus routes.

There are more that 7,000 parking spaces in the lots surrounding Guaranteed Rate Field and parking passes are $10 on Sundays and $20 every other day of the week. You might want to consider driving and enjoying a nice tailgate party before the game.

Ron says

We didn’t drive to Chicago’s South Side, but were passengers as Patti’s cousin, Helen, drove in. We went to a Sunday game, so Chicago’s infamous heavy traffic wasn’t as bad as it would have been for a weekday game. Guaranteed Rate Field is also close to the freeway and the on-site parking lots were fairly inexpensive.

There is free street parking available on Sundays, but you’d better get there early because it fills up fast.

ATMOSPHERE:

Patti says

Although it was hot as blazes (92 degrees at first pitch) on this particular game day on Chicago’s South Side, there were still plenty of fans there to cheer on their team and celebrate Father’s Day. It was fun to see the pinwheels spin and fireworks erupt when Matt Davidson homered to give the White Sox their only score of the game.

There are opportunities to find shade and cool off and I enjoyed watching with my cousins, who were seeing their first MLB game. Arrive early and you could watch a few innings from the air-conditioned Craft Kave. One of the best features here is underground.

Ron says

Guaranteed Rate Field is sort of a sterile environment to watch a game. It doesn’t help that the 2018 club isn’t very good. What saves the stadium from being a 2-RV rating is the excellent tailgating scene outside the stadium.

The center field view at Guaranteed Rate Field

Guaranteed Rate Field rivals only Milwaukee in terms of its tailgating prowess.

Once inside, however, it is a different story. It’s not a bad place to see a game, it just lacks a wow factor. It might have helped if they would have faced home plate toward the downtown skyline, which is visible from outside the stadium, just not inside. Downtown Chicago, with the iconic Willis and Hancock towers, would have been a wonderful backdrop beyond center field, but instead it is hidden behind home plate.

FOOD: 

Patti and Ron both say:

While we missed our opportunity to get a famed Comiskey Chicago Dog, we did have some superb food at Guaranteed Rate Field. There is a large Latino population in Chicago’s South Side and that is represented by some of the food choices inside the park.

Patti had an elote basket (Mexican street corn) that was delicious and pork tamales that were tasty. There are also chicharrones, Cuban burger, churros and other Latino options.

There is also the regular ballpark food and a lot of drink options. Patti would love to go back just for that elote; did we mention how good it was?

VALUE: 

Patti and Ron both say: 

Our view at Guaranteed Rate Field

As with any park, some tickets can be pricey but you can easily find inexpensive White Sox tickets. We got five tickets in Section 109, down the right-field line for just $23 a pop.

On any given day, you can find White Sox tickets for as low as $5 in the upper levels.

There were also good food and beverage values, relatively speaking for a Major League Baseball stadium.

Those elote baskets were under $10 and the stadium also has full-sized plastic helmets to fill with ice cream — instead of those usual miniature helmets sold at other stadiums.

MISCELLANEOUS / EXTRAS: 

The old Comiskey shower in center field at Guaranteed Rate Field (Yes, it’s operational)

Guaranteed Rate Field has a few unique extras, like the operational shower from the Old Comiskey Park that has found a new home in the left-center field concourse.

Statues of team founder Charles Comiskey and franchise greats like Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox and Harold Baines are located throughout the stadium.

There is also the air-conditioned Craft Kave, which has a huge variety of beer and a full bar.

It provides a field-level “bullpen” view and has an outdoor patio area that does not require a special ticket and is simply first-come, first-served for anyone. You might want to consider getting a $5 ticket and getting to this area early.

View through the Guaranteed Rate Field bullpen from the Craft Kave

There is a kids zone at Guaranteed Rate Field, but it is in a very inconvenient area — especially for parents who have small children. Located on the third deck in the left-field corner, the kids zone seems to have been an after-thought by stadium architects.

What is disappointing is the missed opportunity to create an amazing view beyond the center-field wall. White Sox fans told us the architects were “too loyal” to old Comiskey Park that faced away from downtown Chicago. The current stadium, with an open design, lends itself well to having the city’s iconic skyline as the backdrop behind the outfield wall. Instead, there isn’t anything to catch your eyes over the scoreboard like the Clemente Bridge and the Pittsburgh skyline at PNC Park or the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO: 

Our latest trip to Chicago did not present much time to explore the city. However, we have been to Chicago before and the “Second City” can be extremely fun. It has everything you’d want in a big city — especially its very good public transit system. Finding a place to stay with our RV put us about an hour outside Chicago, so we didn’t use the “L” on this trip, but found it extremely useful in the past.

There are a lot of parks in Chicago, including several along Lake Michigan. The scenic waterfront has beaches that were packed on Father’s Day thanks to the 90-degree temperatures. The food in Chicago is nearly unmatched anywhere with deep-dish pizza and ethnic restaurants galore. We had a fabulous Vietnamese meal at a restaurant in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Home Run On Wheels, Home Run On Wheels

Follow Ron and Patti as they travel in their RV to all 30 MLB stadiums in 2018. Along the way, they will write stadium reviews, talk about food, baseball and life in an RV, and how you can help a child in need.
There will also be features with MLB players and other sports figures along the way.

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