Wednesday, August 24, 2016

EXTRA: “The Cell,” (2003-16)

The Chicago White Sox have spent the past 14 seasons playing their home games in a building known for short as “the Cell.” But with the name change announced Wednesday to Guaranteed Rate Field, does this now mean the Sox play at “the Rate?”

From "New Comiskey" to "the Cell" to "the Rate?" Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

THEN AGAIN, GUARANTEED Rate Field, named for the Chicago-based national mortgage lender that bought the naming rights to the stadium through the 2029 season, isn’t any more stupid than any other corporate-motivated name for a sports arena.

I question what companies really get out of paying millions of dollars to sports teams to have their brand put on the building.

Particularly in a case like with the White Sox, where the fan base is stubborn enough to resist using the new name. This could well be the inspiration for fans to deliberately go back to using the old “Sox Park” name that was on the ballpark they played in during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Although with a building of the physical scale of the current stadium, I’d argue for calling it “White Sox Stadium,” just like Yankee or Dodger, or perhaps Kansas City’s old Royals Stadium – which was the inspiration for the White Sox’ ballpark when it was built in the early 1990s.

SO FOR WHAT it’s worth, the reign of the building that began its life as “New Comiskey Park” may wind up being able to say its glory days came when it was named for a company that once used actress Joan Cusack as its face (that is, when they weren’t using a pink space alien).

For it was during its time as U.S. Cellular Field that the World Series was played in Chicago – a first in 46 years and the only one in recent years played by a Chicago team.

No matter what the Cubs accomplish this year, history will record it was the White Sox that won an ultimate championship first any time in this century.

It also was the payout from the U.S. Cellular interests that covered the cost of a renovation that enhanced much of the character the building currently has.

BU IT’S NOT like the “U.S. Cellular” name could have continued for much longer. If anything, it’s a wonder it lasted as long as it did.

Considering that U.S. Cellular doesn’t even exist anymore in Chicago or Illinois. The building essentially became advertising for a company that local people couldn’t use – even if they wanted to.

And considering that the company withered away locally, it didn’t likely do much business when it was here. So the days of “the Cell” are no more. Let’s just hope that someone can come up with a new moniker so that we don’t wind up calling the building “the Rate.”
One last task before retiring -- name park
Perhaps Sox broadcaster Ken Harrelson can use his skills at brandishing nicknames (he being the guy who came up with, among others, “The Big Hurt” for Hall of Famer Frank Thomas) to come up with an appropo label for the ballpark at Shields Avenue.


EDITOR’S NOTE: People were just as upset 14 years ago when the “U.S. Cellular” moniker was applied to the White Sox ballpark.

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