Thanks to a new naming rights agreement, the Chicago White Sox will now play at Guaranteed Rate Field. The deal does not take affect until next season, but Wednesday’s announcement prompted some angst from the team’s faithful.
Naming rights deals can sometimes elicit strong reactions from fans, but the case in Chicago is fairly unique. The White Sox’s ballpark first opened in 1991 under Comiskey Park, taking the name of its predecessor. Though it had a resonance and tradition of its own, Comiskey Park would be scrapped in 2003 in favor of U.S. Cellular Field, which was the ballpark’s name through the 2016 season.
Perhaps its the tradition of the team, or that naming rights agreements are prone to initial skepticism, but Guaranteed Rate Field drew some backlash when it was announced yesterday. The Chicago Tribune provides an interesting round of quotes:
[Mike] Galvin, in a black White Sox shirt, wore a look of indignation. The man next to him, Jim Smyth, ranted on, his eyes widening as he talked.
“Oh my God, no way,” he said. “Guaranteed Rate. It’s like a desperado. You couldn’t find a better candidate? Geico would have been better. At least it’s a chill company.”
A short distance away, Blayze Spooner and his fiance Sarah and son waited for the outbound train to Chicago to attend the White Sox game.
“I did hear about that – I think it’s kind of goofy,” he said. “Their symbol is a downward facing arrow.”
His son danced around Spooner’s feet, dressed in black for the game.
“That can’t be good,” said a reporter.
“No, it can’t,” he said before stepping onto the train.
To be fair, not every reaction in the story was overtly negative, so perhaps fans will get used to the name in time. They will have plenty of time to do so, as the agreement between the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate runs for 13 years.
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