White Sox ballpark changing name to Guarantee Rate Field
CHICAGO >> Maybe the Chicago White Sox will change their luck by changing the name of their stadium.
No guarantees, though.
The ballpark currently called U.S. Cellular Field will become known as Guaranteed Rate Field starting in November. The team and the mortgage company announced a 13-year naming rights deal Wednesday.
"We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said.
The White Sox are below .500 and are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons since the 2005 team won the World Series.
"This is a very solid partner that is interested in helping us drive people to the ballpark and giving us the best opportunity to put the best possible product out on the field," White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said. "The revenue generated for our club ... goes back out into the field. This is a nice step today toward continuing to fulfill the vision of putting the best possible club out on the field that can be out there for our fans."
The agreement was approved by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns the ballpark. The White Sox hold a one-year option that could extend the deal through 2030.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though IFSA chairman Manny Sanchez said the agreement will generate up to $6.4 million for the authority. He also said the IFSA figures to save at least $15 million and as much as $20-$25 million in potential facilities improvements as part of a compromise with the team for approving the naming rights deal.
"This is something that is really, really a serendipitous godsend that we have in my view encountered on behalf of the taxpayers of the state of Illinois," Sanchez said.
The ballpark has been named U.S. Cellular Field since 2003 after being called new Comiskey Park from 1991 to 2002. Team personnel and fans refer to it as "The Cell" and on occasion "Comiskey."
Boyer said a new nickname will "grow organically" and ultimately be determined by fans.
"We talked about it," Guaranteed Rate President and CEO Victor Ciardelli said. "We feel the fans should decide and the fans should make the decision."
Another thing: Guaranteed Rate's logo has an arrow pointing down. While customers might see that as a good direction for their rates, that's not the way teams want to go.
That fact wasn't lost on Boyer, who said the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate are working on logos for the ballpark.
"Hopefully, we'll have the ERAs that follow that arrow and we'll have the winning percentage that goes the other way," Boyer said.
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