Guaranteed Rate (US Cellular) Field Guide – Where to Park, Eat, and Get Cheap Tickets
“The Cell” is the best stadium in Chicago according to many South Siders. Of course, this nickname is now a remnant of times past. 2017 has ushered in a new era of "Guaranteed Rate Field". I think we can pretty much guaranteed how the fans will rate this new name.
The White Sox Recently Put in Ivy for the Batter's Eye - via Flickr user Ken Lund
Stormy Nights for the White Sox - via Flickr user Ken Lund
Arriving at Guaranteed Rate Field
Alternative/Public Transportation to a White Sox Game
There are a couple of L-train options for Guaranteed Rate Field. The Red Line will drop you off the closest to the stadium at Sox/35th St. Station, so if you are coming from out of town it will be beneficial to find a hotel near the subway line. Alternatively, just another block away, the Green Line drops you off at 35th Bronzeville Station.
One very cheap option is the Pace Bus. They have six bus shuttles, all listed on their website, to Guaranteed Rate Field. Park for free in their lots, and then your bus ticket is less than the price of a beer at the park.
I have saved my best for last. Safer free parking can be had at the parking lot of Buffalo Wings and Rings which also provides a free shuttle to Guaranteed Rate Field. That is the best of both worlds; free parking and less traffic as you are actually driving to a location about 8 blocks away from the stadium. You will probably want to eat there first; I am not sure if they require it but you will save money compared to having dinner at the ballpark. This restaurant is also on Halsted, so it’s pretty close to the ballpark.
Another option if you happen to be staying nearby is to avoid the crowded subway car and the stress of traffic and grab an Uber ride. If you've never used Uber, click here and get your first ride free.
Driving to a White Sox Game
Parking for free at Guaranteed Rate Field can be difficult, and may not be worth it. There is metered parking available on/near Halsted St. which is a main road west of the stadium. Meters are only monitored until 6 pm in most cases, so be sure you read the signs but you should be good if you can get there prior to 6 in the evening. On the street parking could be less than safe in this area, so if you are from out of town you might be better served to take the final option.
So the official lots will have a scaled down version of the Milwaukee tailgating experience, but none the less if you are going to drive and fork out the $25 or so, you should come early, bring a small grill, and eat and drink before entering the stadium. If you are local you know this, but the train is the best way to get to a White Sox game.
Another option worth mentioning is the ability to reserve a parking spot ahead of time. Parking Panda lets you do just that, and can provide some peace of mind if you don't feel like driving around in search of the best place to park.
Best Food At & Near Guaranteed Rate Field
Save Money on Food
I mentioned earlier the park and ride option at Buffalo Wings and Rings; you can really save money by not eating at the stadium. I have also talked about the tailgating atmosphere at Guaranteed Rate Field, so if you pay to park you can take a grill and some meat and have a good time on a budget.
Guaranteed Rate Field also allows for you to take some food and snacks into the ballpark as long as it’s in a sealed plastic bag. So something like a ziplock bag of peanuts would work. They also allow for small soft sided coolers to be brought in with these items. No glass, no cans.
You can also take in sealed plastic bottles of water no more than 1 liter in size. Taking your own stuff from home is always a great way to save money at a White Sox game.
Food at Guaranteed Rate Field That You Shouldn't Miss
I will say that Guaranteed Rate Field has relatively reasonable concession prices. This is especially true for being in Chicago. They offer exceptional variety; including the weird crap that has no place at a ballpark, and decent pricing.
1. Elotes: This restaurant behind sections 104, 127, 142, and 529 serves delicious corn off the cob. Fresh, grilled, buttery, salty, savory... it's hard to explain why such a strange dish seems so right at a baseball game.
2. Comiskey's Confections: You wouldn't expect to find a boardwalk style bakery and confectionary in a ballpark, but Comiskey's Confections offers outstanding pastries, candies, and soft-serve ice cream. Cupcakes, cheesecake, fudge, marshmallow, and creme-brulee entice everyone, and there are even gluten-free options.
Guaranteed Rate Field Offers a Cool Vibe - via Flickr user Eric Ward
Cheap White Sox Tickets
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Yankees, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier."
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
2. Buy Last Minute
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
The Excitement Explodes When a Home Run is Hit - via Flickr user Ken Lund
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
Best Value Seats at Guaranteed Rate Field
**WARNING: Level 500 Seats have Limited Access **
The 500-level seats at Guaranteed Rate Field should be avoided - they are incredibly high compared to other parks, and separated from other seats by an awkward cement wall. You also don't have access to the main concourses, meaning that you can't walk around the park and look at various views. Just pay a couple of bucks more and sit in the bleachers.
The big screen and scoreboard are located in dead center field at Guaranteed Rate Field. I like that because you can get a decent view of it from almost anywhere. I typically prefer a view of the screen if possible because in modern stadiums it adds quite a bit to the experience. You get the benefit of player information and between inning entertainment.
As far as being the shade, which you may or may not want depending on the weather, you will be in the shade by game time on the first base side of the stadium.
Upper Deck Seats are Really High Up - via Flickr user FaceMePLS
In the summer you can have the setting sun in your face if you are sitting in the left field bleacher seats, which can be annoying in my opinion. These are just a couple more things to consider; do with what you want.
I feel like Columbo here, but just one more thing. There is also a Bullpen Sports Bar in Right Field. You can get there by going through gate 2, and you just pay a nominal fee to get in. So if you buy cheap seats that are pretty bad, you can grab a table at the sports bar as its on a first come first serve basis. You actually have a decent view from right behind the right field fence.
Where to Stay While Visiting Guaranteed Rate Field
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you usually can find places to stay that are within walking distance to Guaranteed Rate Field. Uggh. I cannot get over how absurd "Guaranteed Rate Field" sounds every time I say it.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff at Guaranteed Rate Field
1. Retired Statues - on the outfield concourse, the White Sox honored their many retired number players with statues. Check out Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio, Billy Pierce, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Frank Thomas.
Check Out Fisk and Baines - via Flickr user Bryce Edwards
2. Hall of Fame - inside the gift shop on the first level, the Hall of Fame is actually pretty impressive. It does a good job of honoring both recent and distant players, as well as presenting Comiskey and Schorling's Park.
3. Champions Plaza - outside the main gate is this monument to the 2005 World Series White Sox. Check out the neat statues and brickwork to learn more about this team effort.
Learn More About Recent Greats - via Flickr user Ken Lund