Considering and reconsidering the ballpark after ‘Ballpark’

I was in San Francisco a couple weeks ago, but the only game in town was in Oakland. I imagine the Coliseum is everybody’s second choice when wanting to see baseball in the Bay Area, but I don’t like letting that seep into my thoughts.

For one, all non-Sox fans say the same thing about the South Side when they visit Chicago when the Cubs are away, and that reflexive rejection hurts. Also, I could get to the Coliseum easily via public transportation and a second-row ticket down the foul line only cost $20, so I had no reason to prejudge it harshly.

Oakland’s Coliseum an old, unloved facility, and it’s a facility more than a ballpark until the game starts. But as a place to watch a game? It’s fine. They had a wide range of beer selections, they had grilled sausage, the video boards presented relevant information, the employees were friendly and the fans friendlier, and while Mount Davis is a regrettable monstrosity that blocks what would be fine scenery, I do like watching an inning or two from dead center field, because most stadiums don’t offer seats where you can see balls and strikes.

Is it a gem? Goodness no, but I’ve had worse times in better places, especially for the price. ParisSox seemed to find the same thing when he went in April. The only drawback was the two-hour trip home because a BART station between the Coliseum and San Francisco lost power, but that’s not the stadium’s fault.

And yet the Coliseum is easily the worst or second-worst ballpark in baseball, with only Tropicana Field and maybe Rogers Centre rivaling it for lack of natural charm. It’s a golden age for stadium expectations for sure, because all but a few teams have found ways to meet the modern standards for acceptability. For the ones that failed, it’s mostly not for a lack of trying, but being on the wrong side of a shift in cultural trends.

* * * * * * * * *

Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, a fantastic new book by Paul Goldberger, does a terrific job of piecing together the timeline to show how we arrived at this point.

The title Ballpark, as opposed to “Ballparks,” is an intentional decision. Goldberger offers a comprehensive history of the concept of the major league ballpark, as opposed to an accounting of every place Major League Baseball has been played. He leverages his experience as a longtime architecture critic for outlets like The New York Times and The New Yorker to tie decisions to their context, and praise or knock them when he deems necessary.

Contexts have driven the direction of ballpark design since the origins of the sport. When it was a pastoral game, slapdash wood constructions did the job, and were expanded in an improvised manner to meet demand. As baseball became a more popular pursuit among the working class in major cities, team owners had to find land, and then ways to situate a ballpark inside the boundaries (Shibe Park, Fenway Park). Or, maybe they’d take a chance on a location a little outside an established neighborhood (Forbes Field).

As the game became the fixation of entire cities, ballparks became subject to the same influences that confronted their settings. When populations became scared of urban neighborhoods and moved to suburbs, the ballparks followed suit and became accessible mainly by car. When football took off and cities wanted to house all their teams efficiently, they built stadiums for both purposes. When people remembered the advantages proximity to cities offered, ballparks moved back with them. Now, with suburbs trying to offer those urban benefits in a more controlled environment, teams like the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves are following the incentives and open space to create entire neighborhoods and, with that, entirely new revenue streams.

While there are defined eras of ballpark construction, there isn’t a clean transition from one to another. Some ballparks get caught in between, and Goldberger suggests that’s happened to the White Sox with their last two homes.

Regarding Old Comiskey, Goldberger writes:

Despite the carefully wrought order of its field, Comiskey was something or an architectural anticlimax, either neither the subtlety of Forbes Field nor the drama of Shibe Park, and the park’s South Side location — the site of a former garbage dump not far from the Chicago stockyards — had neither the energy of the densest urban sites nor any degree of scenic appeal.

This might strike the memories of longtime White Sox fans as a grave insult, and I’d argue that Comiskey Park’s old archways make it easily identifiable in old footage …

… but I’d also venture to guess that Old Comiskey nostalgia wouldn’t be so strong if the White Sox hadn’t made the most sterile and immediately outdated of decisions with New Comiskey. The White Sox had opportunities to improve their location as Rob detailed in his post about the failed South Loop proposals back in 2012 on South Side Sox. They also could have stayed in the same neighborhood but beaten Baltimore to the retro aesthetic in Armour Square with the beautiful, if politically impossible, Armour Field project.

Instead? Here’s Goldberger:

While New Comiskey Park — later renamed U.S. Cellular Field, and then, under a different corporate naming rights deal, Guaranteed Rate Field — is a baseball-only park and eschews the circular shape of the 1960s and ’70s stadiums, depsite those virtues it is really the last of the twentieth century’s concrete behemoths. Its overall design bears a distant resemblance to the Royals stadium, but without the graceful curves of the Kansas City grandstand. The design of New Comiskey’s enormous, wide, and steep upper-deck overhang that led to so many obstructed-view seats at the old Comiskey, meant that a vast number of seats were at a great distance from the field. It was a poor trade-off for getting rid of the columns that had supported old Comiskey’s upper deck. The critic John Pastier observed that the seats in the first row of the upper deck in the new park are farther from the field than the seats in the last row of the old one.

The new Comiskey that HOK produced may have been built right next to the old Comiskey on Chicago’s South Side, but it was in every other way a suburban stadium. By some measures it was worse, since it was a suburban stadium placed inside the city, and building it required the destruction of several blocks of original urban fabric.

The White Sox — and the state agency that technically owns the stadium — have taken measures improve Guaranteed Rate Field, but it can’t do anything with the remoteness of the upper deck or the direction the park faces. They also dipped a toe into the idea of building up around the ballpark with ChiSox Bar and Grill and the Chicago Sports Depot, but can’t scale up the way the Braves are doing in Cobb County.

These mistakes have defined the stadium’s entire existence. They’ve also created a lot of tension and speculation about what the White Sox will do after 2029, when the Guaranteed Rate naming rights expire and the White Sox release the agency from its obligation to modernize the park.

* * * * * * * * *

I’m reluctant to pull at that thread, mostly because I have no idea what’s on the end of it — Suburban stadium? New owner footing some of the bill for real estate purposes? — but also because its flaws are amplified by the mostly uninteresting teams that have occupied it for the last 10 years. All the worries about location and attendance would’ve long subsided if the White Sox ever made the postseason two years in a row.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about whatever you want to call Sox Park is that it’s a fairly democratic experience. If you go to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, there are moats separating the good sections from the normal ones, and it’s off-putting to see the best seats unoccupied while other sections are sold out because it’s too hot, cold, early, late, etc. Guaranteed Rate Field has the Scout Seats and Goose Island, but all other lower-deck sections are theoretically accessible to the average fan. The upper deck/lower deck divide exists, but that’s not a result of team policy, not stadium design. Throw in an active tailgating culture, and there’s a lot of autonomy with how much money a fan needs to spend inside the park to have a fulfilling day out.

That seems to run counter to ballpark trends. Seating capacities are shrinking in concert with falling attendance around the league, and teams seem to be focusing on how much money they can extract from the fans who show up. It’s not just newer parks like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and SunTrust Park, either. The White Sox did it with the Goose Island, and the Cubs are going even harder with their various exclusive areas.

I read Ballpark in between a couple of books I didn’t expect to be related: Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, and Eric Klinenberg’s Palaces for the People. Orlean’s book is a unique and satisfying combination of memoir/explainer/true crime, while Klinenberg’s is a dryer but passionate sequence of case studies regarding social infrastructure, but both lean heavily on the theme of the library as a sorely needed center of public good. All of their functions are vital for people who need them, and underappreciated, unacknowledged or simply unknown by people who don’t.

This isn’t unique to libraries. Every so often somebody makes a bold stab at taking a public good private, like when Chicago flirted with an express tunnel to O’Hare that appeared to be the Blue Line, but exclusive.

A baseball stadium isn’t a public, not-for-profit entity like a library or city park, but Goldberger’s depiction of a ballpark as a provider of rus in erbe — country inside city — makes it come closer to one than any other sports arena. An admission fee is required, but it’s been the cheapest major sport to attend due to size of stadiums and abundance of home dates, so it’s able to stand as a gathering place for all sorts of people.

But following the evolution of ballparks in Ballpark — born from neighborhoods, swelling from ambition and lack of constraints, then reclaiming intimacy at enhanced costs — they’re vulnerable to the same forces to wring more and more money out of something that seemed more straightforward and public-oriented.

It’s impossible to disagree with Goldberger when he dismisses Guaranteed Rate Field as a city ballpark without urban sensibilities or sensitivities, or lumps Oakland in with all the other multi-sport stadiums that have been leveled from the landscape for good reason. Even if you have no interest in reading another criticism about the choices made at 35th and Shields, Ballpark is worth picking up for a better understanding of where ballparks have been, where they’re going and why. All I’m saying is, as we enter what appears to be the last decade of ballpark peace on the South Side, it’s at least worth acknowledging the unintended benefits when you have to make a home of a stadium time left behind.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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asinwreck

Terrific post, Jim, and thank you for bring libraries into the discussion of the built environment and public amenities. Architecture is design; good design solves problems and strengthens communities.

Starting your discussion of Goldberger’s book with your visit to Oakland interests me, because the Oakland-South Side connection always was strong in my mind. I moved from Chicago to the East Bay back in the 80s. Going to A’s games, I was annoyed by the circular multipurpose dimensions of the Coliseum, the lack of a roof protecting steep upper-deck seats, and the park’s relatively remote distance from most residential areas. Comiskey shared the Coliseum’s proximity to a freeway, but seemed more a part of the Bridgeport neighborhood.

When I returned to Chicago, New Comiskey had just been built. The one saving grace of the new park was it retained baseball dimensions, sparing us from the massive foul territory of multipurpose facilities. The upper deck was even steeper than Oakland’s, and lacked a roof. The Sox cleared out the neighborhood and replaced it with…parking.

Sitting in the upper deck of the new park and staring at traffic clogging the Dan Ryan seemed a lot more like going to a game in Oakland. While the Sox made cosmetic improvements to the building since 2005, Goldberger’s argument about context continues to inform disappointment about the building. Public availability of Philip Bess’s alternate design serves to show Jerry Reinsdorf’s lack of vision in bringing suburban sprawl to Bridgeport. (When Goldberger was researching his book, I asked him if he was going to feature the Armour Square proposal, and he indicated it was relevant to his argument. That is evident in the book he wrote.)

What’s weird about that choice is western cities like Denver, Houston, and Seattle are more associated with low-density land use than Chicago, but their subsequent parks seem far more part of the fabric of neighborhoods than New Comiskey does.

What does this mean for the future? The next Sox owner will take the team having seen the trends of the past 30 years. There are a few sites south of Madison in the city that could support a new park. Illinois just gave the green light to a Chicago casino, so the possibility of a new entertainment district include a stadium exists. When the time comes for a new facility, I hope the Powers That Be read Goldberger’s book and also dust off a copy of Charles Euchner’s Playing the Field to avoid the decisions made in Bridgeport.

MrTopaz

As nice looking as the Armour Field design is, I just think those super short foul lines are too wonky to live. One Pesky’s pole is enough. Two in one stadium is asking for endless frustration as a double handful of games every year turn on the cheapest of home runs. And with those bleachers in the outfield corners being reminiscent of the centerfield bleachers at Wrigley, the “THE SUX JUST COPIED THE SHRINE HURR HURR” takes practically write themselves, and I’m glad to have missed them these past 30 years.

asinwreck

Bess’s design isn’t perfect by any means, though what I like about it is he was trying to match the building to the movement of people in the neighborhood in exactly the ways Goldberger argues good ballparks serve their cities. It had plenty of entrances and exits to surrounding neighborhoods and was situated so people behind home plate would gaze out at the Loop.

The best parts of Bess’s proposal are found in PNC Park. The building is designed to show off downtown Pittsburgh and invites fans to walk through the Point and near North Side before and after games. It’s my favorite current MLB park, even more so because it replaced the horrid Three Rivers Stadium (a multipurpose building which rendered those rivers invisible to anyone who had the misfortune of sitting in it).

GrinnellSteve

For the reasons you state PNC is number one on my list of stadiums I want to see.

MrTopaz

When it comes to cozy, neighborhood ball parks, my biggest what if was a developer (can’t remember the name) back in the ‘70s (and then again in the ‘80s, when the Sox’ need for a new home started get pressing) making an unsolicited proposal to the city to build a dome for the Sox, Bears and Cubs at Stearns Quarry, which has since been in filled and turned into Palmisano Park on Halsted a little south of Archer. Because the quarry hadn’t been filled in yet, it would’ve been comparatively easy to build a lot of underground parking, shrinking the overall footprint of parking lots, which is the primary eyesore for a lot of stadiums.

Now, obviously domes suck, and a domed multi-sport facility sucks most of all, but if the Sox could’ve gotten the site, done a Bess-like stadium without the wonky foul lines, and gotten something like a modern stadium’s parking area, all wedged into a cozy part of Bridgeport that wasn’t walled off from the rest of the neighborhood by freight train tracks, that could’ve been cool. Although, may as well wish for the moon, I guess.

MrTopaz
Joliet Orange Sox

Thanks for posting the link. The article was interesting both in being about the stadium and also for transporting me back to 1985.

knoxfire30

Always liked the what should of happened plan of….

The bears and sox flip flop stadium sites.

The bears ridiculously renovated a way undersized stadium that has a myriad of logistical problems. They could have moved to the south side with much better high way access, huge parking lots for tailgates, and added 20,000 more seats.
Plus most people wouldnt fear the “south side next to the projects” montra because 12 o clock on a sunday isnt a bad time to be there.

On the flip side the sox could have built a unique stadium capitalizing on water and sky line views, and taking advantage of the amount of people always in the hub of the city during summer months. Baseball parks cater a bit better to public transit and you would still have the south lot near mccormick place for the people who want to drive/tailgate.

egib52

As much as I would hate to see the Sox leave Bridgeport, they really haven’t done anything to improve it as I thought might happen with the new ballpark. So I also have been in favor of this swap. Plus it would be cool to capitalize on Lake Michigan during the summer.

GreatjonHumber

Just build it on the softball fields. 16″ softball is dumb.

TCBullfrog

HOW DARE YOU SIR

IllinoisJones

reported.

craigws

Problem with that is that you would have had to knock down Soldier Field, which was a National Historic Landmark.

MrTopaz

I’ve never been to a Bears game, but every time I’ve driven past the whole Soldier Field/museum campus area, traffic has been a borderline clusterfuck. I shudder to think what getting to a game would be like with 81 home games or by the schedule. The views would be great, though.

As far as I know, development of the space at Roosevelt and Clark that was once thought of as the Golden Missed Opportunity is still chugging along, so that’s the only large space suitable for a stadium in/near the loop off the board. I wouldn’t mind if they just built a new stadium in the lot where old Comiskey used to be, just with a more thoughtful design.

asinwreck

The longer Michael Reese’s site stays undeveloped, the more I wonder if the city and state will push to make a ballpark part of its development strategy in the 2020s.

MrTopaz

That’s the only other large open site within the city that I can think of that would make a lot of sense, unless we’re all on board with the next Sox Park being built on an insufficiently cleaned up superfund site down by the old US Steel south works. I can see it now: Eloy Jimenez misses a big chunk of the 2033 season with cadmium and mercury poisoning.

Although, there is something to Josh’s one time suggestion of building on one of the lots around the United Center, but I’d prefer to keep the park closer to it’s south side roots, if you’ll forgive me for being sentimental.

metasox

Probably a pipe dream but I would love to see some of those ill-conceived South Loop townhome developments meet the wrecking ball. Am not certain but there may be opportunities in the general area of the Illinois Medical District. Though I like the idea of bringing some vision for new neighborhoods to the near South Side (Reese and beyond).

polishwith

I really enjoyed this piece, Jim. I’d be interested in hearing opinions on a retractable roof stadium if/when a new stadium is built. While I love open air stadiums, you can’t help recognize the opportunities that an all year facility would provide.

metasox

I expect climate change will play a role in roof decisions on any new stadiums around the country – more heat, more storms, etc. Also, if the business model is to package a stadium into some sort of entertainment complex, I can see the value to a roof

asinwreck

If the Sox go this route, I hope they avoid Milwaukee’s design (looks like a warehouse and has imposing shadows). Seattle’s roof might be one to emulate.

GreatjonHumber

Not to be grim, but what happens in 2029 will be influenced heavily by whether the current owner is still alive. He was very close to moving the team to Sarasota when the Illinois legislature balked at having the taxpayers pay for New Comiskey. Now I don’t think Sarasota’s still an option, but there are probably some up and coming cities – Portland, Nashville, Charlotte – that have enough wealthy private citizens with civic pride to make a play for the franchise.

Brett R. Bobysud

Being the 2nd team in Chicago is better than being the 1st team in many other cities.

GreatjonHumber

That’s probably true but it was also probably true in 1989 – this isn’t a hypothetical scenario – the team is only still here today because of a literal 11th hour (and maybe 12th hour) deal to give $150MM of our money to Reinsdorf. Florida had already approved the stadium money.

Brett R. Bobysud

Perhaps I should rephrase my previous statement:

Being the 2nd team in Chicago is better than being the 1st team in many other cities, provided the owner takes the correct steps in order to maximize said advantage.

knoxfire30

Winning cures all. Sox choices have been to penny pinch and lose. If they had real ownership they could make up a ton of ground on the Cubs.

GreatjonHumber

The additional revenue streams are a great point – teams are more isolated than ever from performance.

yinkadoubledare

I think the only way it’s a possibility is if the buyer is from one of those relocation-possible cities. There isn’t really a business case to be made for relocation that I can tell.

35Shields

As someone who lives in the Bay Area now, I’ll say that I actually love the Coliseum for the reason you pointed out – it reminds you of the Cell. The Coliseum is a much worse stadium – it’s ugly where New Comiskey is just generic. The food is generally not very good, unlike the Sox’ excellent offerings.

But it has it where it counts: the fans. They almost never fill up, but the people who do come are there to watch the game. The stands aren’t filled with people who don’t know the players or spend more of their time on Instagram than watching the game, unlike Giants Park or another park most Sox fans are familiar with.

To anyone who happens to be in the area for a game, grab tickets in the right field bleachers. It’s general admission there and you get to spend the game with these ridiculous season ticket holders who show up to every game with drums, saxophones and a whole lot more.

I’m glad that the As are probably getting a new park soon. Lord knows that Oakland fans deserve some good treatment after all of their other teams have abandoned them. But I do worry that the new park will forfeit some of the charm that Oakland fans in the Coliseum have today.

asinwreck

The design that may actually get built in Oakland is pretty wild, though I preferred the first version to the revision.

Though I complained about the Coliseum above, Candlestick Park is the single worst sports facility I have ever sat in. If you wanted to engineer a wind tunnel that would ensure patrons were subjected to freezing winds blowing hot dog wrappers in their faces even during the middle of summer, you would pick the site and design of Candlestick. Part of why Bay Area baseball fans love the current Giants’ park is it is so much better than Candlestick. The A’s have a chance at a dramatic improvement, but (sewage spills aside) the Coliseum is a far more comfortable place to sit in than Candlestick ever was.

35Shields

Don’t get me wrong, the Giants Park is a great ballpark. I’m just not a huge fan of New Age Giants fans and $14 Coors Lite’s

soxexile

Yes, but if you stayed to the end of an extra innings night game, they gave you a “survivor” button with icicles on it.

soxexile

I agree about the Oakland bleachers. When I lived in SF for a couple years, I could get seats along the right field wall with a great view of the game for very little money.

My best memory was watching Ivan Calderon up close as he made a diving catch to end an inning. I shouted a compliment when he came out to start the next inning. He spun around in apparent confusion over receiving a friendly word during an away game, saw my sox hat, and started laughing.

GrinnellSteve

I was on SABR’s Ballparks Committee with Phil Bess. I was the one who proposed we put up money and publish his work. It was too important to not get it out there in some wider way than an article in one of SABR’s annual anthologies. I put up some money. Others followed suit. We got the Minneapolis Review of Baseball involved. It was controversial within SABR at the time. A research committee had never acted on its own without the blessing or financial support of the board. We didn’t care. It needed to be done.

The first time I went to New Comiskey, I almost cried because I knew what could have been.

HOK co-opted a lot of Phil’s language without understanding or caring about what the words meant. They learned to talk about urban environments and such while being little more than architectural waiters taking orders from people who didn’t know the first thing about fine cooking (or urban architecture).

As Cirensica

Thank you. Yes, Rogers Centre is the worst stadium I have been, and I have also gone to the Tropicana Field which I find more comfortable but horrendously located.

GrinnellSteve

I haven’t been to either of those, but I suspect they look like Comiskey Park compared to the Kingdome. That’s the worst I’ve ever been to. It was a mausoleum.

As Cirensica

It is still pretty clean. I went to a game last week. Things that annoy me from Rogers Centre are:

Lack of grass

Seats are crammed. You are too close to the guy sitting next to you, and there is almost no leg room

Food in 2nd floor is varied, but if you climbed up to (cheaper seats), the food options thin out a bit. If you are in the 5th level, you have to walk double to find a food item where in the 2nd level, it would be just there.

Anyway…. I don’t hate it. People at Rogers Centre is loud, engaged and friendly, but after many years going to Camden Yard (When I lived in DC), the Rogers Centre was a bit of a let down.

joewho112

I know the logistics would be a nightmare, but I’ve thought that Northerly Island would be a cool spot for a stadium

soxexile

Does anybody know WHY they put home plate in the NW corner of the current ballpark, rather than the SW corner it occupied at old Comiskey? All these years later, I’m still disoriented by the fact that right field no longer faces the Dan Ryan.

lil jimmy

I believe it had to do with the wind.

TheBigHrabosky

I was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and since my hotel was just 1.5 miles from Pac Bell I went to see a game. I got a bleacher ticket for $14.50 on SeatGeek and took a walk around the concourse. It was a very nice place to watch a game.

But the food concessions inside were bonkers. $20 for a sandwich. $13 for a beer. I passed on both.

lil jimmy

20.00 for a sandwich could turn you into The MediumHrabosky in no time.

yinkadoubledare

Pretty good reason to be a Mad Hungarian though

35Shields

It’s pretty insane. Tickets have been really cheap for a few seasons now because the Giants are awful and all these season ticket holder try to jettison their tickets, but the food is dumb, even for SF.

WBWSF

Most people forget that JR changed the design of the present White Sox stadium. JR wanted a 2nd level of suites which made the upper deck what it is today. The original design didn’t have the 2nd level of suites. JR created the miserable upper deck which everybody hates. The upper deck has ruined the stadium and it was JRs doing.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think the second level of suites was a mistake and the upper deck has problems. That said, it is so much better since the big renovation than it was when the new park fist opened. I think when the new park opened the upper deck was really bad even in comparison with other steep/high upper decks around MLB and it seemed even worse because many of us had spent out lives with the very intimate upper deck of the old place.

WBWSF

The news media blasted the upper deck when the stadium opened in 1991. They kept calling the upper deck the Reinsdeck.

David I

All of his decisions ruined this park.  HOK offered to redesign the park after they finished Camden Yards design, but Jerry didn’t want to delay the opening another year.  And yes, he wanted another skybox level for more rich people revenue.  Same thing with Goose Island– really?  Premium seats in the freaking outfield now?  Plus he wanted everyone to buy food and booze in the park and not outside of it– hence the sea of parking lots and no neighborhood options.  Short-sighted and stupid.  Have a trade-off of getting people to the area as a destination, like Wrigley, and then more attendance in the games for food/drink purchases.  Instead, no one goes when they are bad, so they don’t get ANY money for concessions. 

bonomo

I, too, dreamed a few years back.

http://www.nosuchthingaswas.com/search?q=white+sox

bonomo
David I

Great article.  I really think the Sox can position themselves better as a franchise with better decisions in the future.  They clearly organized toward trying to get all money in the park when building New Comiskey.  No bars or restaurants outside, two tiers of skyboxes, etc. Ballparks need to be a destination/event and the current park misses on pretty much everything.  I’m convinced people tailgate just because there are no other options.  

I’m hoping the Sox will host the 100th anniversary of the All Star Game in 1933 in a new park.  I also think this park should not be in Bridgeport, and it should not be in the suburbs.  I grew up a mile from the proposed Addison location, and even then I thought it should be downtown.  A suburban stadium might be a new trend, but I think it is short-sighted and misses many opportunities. I’d love a park in South Loop or near West Side.  A smaller and intimate PNC-like park, inspired by Old and New Comiskey elements but not a replica.   Incorporating surroundings to build into the environment and a view of one of the best skylines in the world would make it stand out.  I’d go with a classic design so it can stand the test of time and not get dated.  I would prefer to not have a roof, because I’ve never seen a park pull off a retractable roof and still feel intimate.

A near West Side or South Loop location (where they were offered land previously and where they are now going to put a huge development, would draw and convert many suburban fans bc of walkability from Olgilvie and train stops. It will get casual after work attendance from Loop business people. And would also be a tourist stop for those visiting, which will spread word and helps maintain a level of attendance like Wrigley in a way that a suburban stadium never will.

Having the surrounding neighborhood scene will be huge for building fan base and making a destination. I don’t think this will happen on the south side like it can happen in west or south loop.  This will position Sox for long term branding and revenue. I believe this will take new ownership with long term vision and also willing to finance most of it (given Chicago and Illinois finances). For timing, that means new ownership would need to arrive soon, as planning and moves take years.

I do think it’d be possible for the Sox to be on par with the Cubs with attendance and popularity– especially if it’s walkable from Olgilvie.  The Sox used to outdraw the Cubs back in the day… Chicago became a Cubs town because their management made better decisions in many cases (building a national fan base on WGN, etc)– NOT just because of the park and the location.