Teams: Chicago White Sox

Guaranteed Rate Field

Chicago White Sox
Major League
Final Score

TL;DR?  Here’s the long-form piece in a nutshell:

Just barely missing the retro-classic trend ushered in by Camden Yards (1992), the White Sox stadium (1991) usually falls near the very bottom of ballpark rankings.  But as any ballpark enthusiast will tell you, Chicago’s South Side ballpark has gotten so much better after over 20 years of periodic renovations.

Yes, inside and out, little about GRF makes any pretense of being aesthetically attractive.  With an enclosed, ad-plastered outfield facing away from Chicago’s skyline, GRF has little character and absolutely no visual sense of place.  But compared to some busy, disjointed, gimmicky retro parks, there is a certain coherence and simplicity about its pleasing, symmetrical interior lines that just rubs me the right way.

GTF’s amenities and fan-friendly features compare pretty well: (a) good food, (b) top-5 ballpark for craft beer, (c) The Craft Kave, one of the best social spaces in baseball, (d) multiple lounges and bars littered around the main concourse, (e) statues adorn the outfield concourse, and (f) a kids’ area focused on baseball activities.  And don’t forget the exploding scoreboard, now equipped with state-of-the-art tech to match its reputation.

However, GRF is still rife with flaws beyond the nondescript aesthetics, because there are plenty of structural issues that can’t be fixed.  The upper deck is still high, steep, and far from the action.  Cumbersome ramps are still required for vertical circulation; exploring the park is a chore.  And it’s still a “parking lot stadium.”

Finally, while inconsistently enforced, the policy restricting upper deck ticket holders to that level, meaning they can’t access the amenities on the main concourse, is deplorable.  And it was back in full force for 2021.  There are ways to circumvent this rule, but it’s baseball’s single most fan-unfriendly policy.

But GTF doesn’t deserve to be associated with the two “bad” stadiums in Oakland and Tampa, which I see far too often.  Compared to other fans’ ballpark rankings, #25 is a pretty solid showing for GRF.