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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Do-over: White Sox Seek Reversal of Decades-old Mistake With Ballpark

  • MLB club potentially leaving the long-derided Guaranteed Rate Field.
  • Ongoing discussions with Chicago officials could intersect with the Bears’ stadium search.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago White Sox are potentially moving closer to reversing a facility mistake now in its fourth decade.

The MLB club acknowledged it has engaged in talks with Chicago city officials about building a new stadium, advancing chatter that has actively swirled since last summer. The Chicago Sun-Times described the latest ballpark development talks as “serious” and focused on the city’s South Loop, near downtown.

“We met to discuss the historic partnership between the team and Chicago and the team’s ideas for remaining competitive in Chicago in perpetuity,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Chicago mayor Brandon Johnson said in a joint statement. “The partnership between the city and team goes back more than a century, and the Johnson administration is committed to continuing this dialogue moving forward.”

The club’s current lease at Guaranteed Rate Field expires after the 2029 season. Leaving the facility would allow to White Sox to be much closer to Chicago’s commercial core and tourist traffic. The Chicago ballpark, which opened in 1991, is the last MLB stadium built before the urban, retro-inspired design wave ushered in by Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and it quickly garnered a reputation as an afterthought. Located several miles away from downtown, the current White Sox facility sits in the middle of roughly 70 acres of surface parking and has not attracted the collateral development or attendance enjoyed by most other big-market clubs.

The land currently being discussed for the potential White Sox project—a 62-acre parcel known as “The 78” and owned by developer Related Midwest—is seen as one of Chicago’s best untapped properties.

Back at Halas Hall …

It’s unknown whether the White Sox will seek public funding for a new ballpark, and if so, how much. But if taxpayer money is sought, the project could potentially create local funding and political issues, as the Chicago Bears also are considering developing a stadium in the city of Chicago. Locations near Soldier Field are part of a broader stadium site search by the NFL team across the Chicago area. 

Most recently, the Bears have restarted discussions with Arlington Heights, Ill., where the team owns 326 acres of land, reversing what the team previously described as a “stalemate” with local officials. 

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