Will the South Siders be playing baseball in the South Loop?
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “serious” negotiations have taken place between the Chicago White Sox and developer Related Midwest in regard to possibly building a baseball-only stadium at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street — an area known as “the 78.”
Related Midwest owns the site. The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority — which owns Guaranteed Rate Field — has not been involved in the talks, the organization’s CEO, Frank Bilecki, told the Tribune.
“I’m not part of the discussion, at least as of yet,” Bilecki said. “I truly know nothing. I’m a landlord and they’re a tenant, and they’re looking at options as tenants do everywhere.”
The Sox lease at Guaranteed Rate Field runs through 2029.
Tricia Van Horn, vice president of marketing and communications for Related Midwest, declined to comment.
The Sox and Mayor Brandon Johnson released a joint statement Thursday that did not address the possibility of a new stadium being built on the 78 site.
“Mayor Brandon Johnson and Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met to discuss the historic partnership between the team and Chicago and the team’s ideas for remaining competitive in Chicago in perpetuity,” the statement reads. “The partnership between the City and the team goes back more than a century and the Johnson administration is committed to continuing this dialogue moving forward.”
Where the Sox will be playing in the future has been a topic of conversation for several months.
In August, Crain’s Chicago Business reported the team was considering a move from Guaranteed Rate Field — where the Sox have played since 1991, when it was built to replace Comiskey Park — when the current lease expires after 2029.
At the time of that report, the Sox said in a statement: “We have not had any conversations about our lease situation, but with six years remaining, it is naturally nearing a time where discussions should begin to take place. The conversations would be with the city, ISFA and the state and most likely would be about vision, opportunities and the future.”
The Sox confirmed a meeting between Reinsdorf and Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell took place during the MLB winter meetings in December. But they did not disclose the topics discussed.
Nashville has long been mentioned in speculation as a city to consider if MLB decides to expand.
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A Sox’ move could add a wrinkle to the Chicago Bears’ efforts to build a new enclosed stadium. The Bears spent $197 million to buy the former Arlington Park racetrack almost a year ago, but have made little progress since then to get tax subsidies or resolve a dispute over property taxes with local school districts.
The Bears have also had discussions with Chicago’s mayor over staying in the city, and with officials over potential sites in Naperville, Waukegan and elsewhere.
Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said he couldn’t speculate about how the Sox talks might affect the Bears’ options, saying he was still trying to arrange face-to-face meetings between the team and the schools.
“I don’t anticipate that this would negatively impact the momentum we’ve been trying to gain,” he said. “We’re very hopeful things are moving in the right direction, and we’re continuing to work on it.”
A Sox relocation to the 78 might be modeled on the Atlanta Braves Truist Park, which opened in 2017 as an anchor to The Battery, a surrounding area of restaurants, housing and entertainment.
Such a mixed-use development is what the Bears have proposed for Arlington Heights. But at 62 acres, the Chicago site is much smaller than the 326 acres at the former Arlington horse track.