Four years after U.S. Cellular exited the Chicago market (but still kept its headquarters here), the mobile phone company’s name is going to come off of the White Sox’ ballpark.
Effective November first, U.S. Cellular Field becomes Guaranteed Rate Field, named for the mortgage company that ponied up untold millions of dollars for the naming rights to the south side stadium through 2029.
Removing the U.S. Cellular brand from the former Comiskey Park is long overdue, but it’s hard to tell us Guaranteed Rate Field is an awkward name because we’re not used to it yet, or because it’s truly awkward. For what it’s worth, here is a smattering of stadia with far worse names, and one of them is not even a corporate sponsorship:
- KFC Yum! Arena, Louisville
- Tony Macaroni Arena, Livingston, England
- Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
- Hunky Dorys Park, Drogheda, Ireland
- Wankdorf Stadium, Bern
- Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando
- The Dripping Pan, East Sussex, England
- Meddelfart Stadion, Meddelfart, Denmark
Guaranteed Rate and the White Sox Announce New Ballpark Naming Rights
Guaranteed Rate, the Chicago-based national mortgage lender, and the Chicago White Sox have signed a 13-year naming rights agreement for the team’s home ballpark in Chicago, which will be named Guaranteed Rate Field beginning November 1, 2016. Financial terms of the deal between the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate were not disclosed.
The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA), the owner and operator of the ballpark, approved the change in name at a meeting of its board on Wednesday afternoon.
The White Sox retain an option under the team’s lease for the ballpark, which if exercised, could extend this naming rights deal an additional year through 2030.
“We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the White Sox. “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.”
In addition to the naming rights partnership, the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate have agreed on sponsorship elements associated with White Sox baseball, which include various branding, promotional and hospitality benefits, along with joint marketing opportunities. Guaranteed Rate becomes the official mortgage and title company of the White Sox.
“We are incredibly excited and honored to be part of the White Sox family,” said Victor Ciardelli, president & CEO of Guaranteed Rate. “It really is a dream come true to have the Guaranteed Rate name on a hometown Chicago ballpark. We love this city and its baseball fans, and couldn’t be happier to partner with an iconic team and a legendary owner in Jerry Reinsdorf. We look forward to many great years of White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field.”
Upon the completion of existing naming rights payments to the White Sox, ISFA will receive all incremental naming rights revenue from this new agreement with Guaranteed Rate.
“ISFA is extremely pleased that the new agreement with Guaranteed Rate will generate revenue, up to $6.4 million, for the facility,” said Manny Sanchez, chairman of ISFA. “As part of ISFA’s approval process, the White Sox agreed that they will not require certain major renovations during the last three years of the current management agreement. This is just the latest example of ISFA deploying innovative strategies to protect Illinois taxpayers.”
The White Sox played at New Comiskey Park from 1991-2002 before a naming rights agreement changed the ballpark’s name to U.S. Cellular Field from 2003-2016.
“U.S. Cellular has been an important and valued partner to the organization. The partnership with U.S. Cellular paved the way for a complete, top-to-bottom renovation of the ballpark that transformed the White Sox fan experience,” said Brooks Boyer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the White Sox. “We celebrated many memorable moments at U.S. Cellular Field throughout the years, including the 2005 World Series title. Looking forward, we will make many more incredible memories for our fans at Guaranteed Rate Field with a successful and growing partner who shares our passion for Chicago.”