Thursday, May 8, 2008

US Cellular Field Review

This is installment 2 of my 11 part series Reviewing Major League Baseball Stadiums

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - In August of 2003, I attended a White Sox game at US Cellular Field.

Wait, it's not called Comiskey Park anymore?

That's a shame because Charlie Comiskey was one of baseball's most notorius bastards, the George Steinbrenner of his day. But South Siders still love Comiskey. In fact the very first vendor I saw outside the ballpark was selling T-shirts that said, "I STILL call it Comiskey."

And I also still would rather call the stadium after Comiskey than a corporation that paid for the naming rights. And that's what I will do.

Whatever name you prefer to call the stadium, let's just say it was a surprisingly good place to watch a ballgame. While North-side fans talk lovingly of the ivy and the bleachers and the Friendly Confines at Wrigley Field, Comiskey is known mostly for its ridiculously steep upper-deck, for the way Reinsdorf blackmailed the state into building it and for being built just before Camden Yards ushered in the retro-ballpark era.

Unfortunately by Comiskey Park and White Sox fans alike, they get neglected by the rest of Chicago. The White Sox are to the Cubs as the Mets are to the Yankees. Maybe one day, someone will remember that there is a second team in Chicago.

Side note: The August 18, 2003 game I saw was between the White Sox and Angels. Angels pitcher Jerod Washburn had a no-hitter going into the 7th before Frank Thomas homered. Thomas also hit a 2 run game winning homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth to send the White Sox faithful home happy.

The Review:

Price of Ticket: $29.00 for lower level seats about 15 rows back from the tarp in right. Coming from NJ I thought this was a misprint. It wasn't and the seats were fantastic. Coincidentally the guy in the seat in front of me was from Lakewood, NJ. Very wierd.

Beer: This was the very first place my dad ever bought me a beer in public. Actually it was right in front of my mom, I was underage and it was a Pilsner Urquell. 3 for 3 Frank, well done! The only negative was the beer was $5.00.

Scoreboard: The scoreboard features the same distinctive pinwheels that were on the old scoreboard in Comiskey Park 1. Not to mention it is still an exploding scoreboard! Otherwise the graphics are very average at best.

Neighborhood: Let's just say, don't leave any valuables unattended in car. The South Side of Chicago is less safe than Matt Holiday was in last year's play in game.

Access: You could take the El Train to get to Comiskey as it has a stop directly outside. Or you can take a car as it is located right off of the Dan Ryan Expressway. We preferred to drive and there was plenty of parking within a reasonable distance from the stadium.

Architecture: The stadium is very plain from the outside. Gone are the arches that were associated with Comiskey 1. The extremely steep upper deck is very visible from the outside and can be a daunting task to hike up. Once inside, the stadium provides solid sight lines from the lower level. There are plenty of concession stands (named after former White Sox such as Harold Baines Fries) and bathrooms. There is even a "rain room" where fans can sit when the game is in delay.

Additional Comments: While Comiskey Park doesn't boast the newest amenities or the latest in retro ballpark designs, it still is a very decent place to catch a ballgame. While I was there in 2003, they added a life size bronze sculpture of Charlie Comiskey, a Fan Deck in center field, and painted the ballpark black. The major drawback to this stadium is its location in Chicago's Armour Park neighborhood. There is nothing around the stadium, no bars and its even hard to fetch a cab.

Grade: C+

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