White Sox home ballpark hosted first football game on Wednesday night. With successful non-baseball events this year, venue should consider hosting more similar events in the future.
The Chicago White Sox didn’t play this past Wednesday, but Guaranteed Rate Field still hosted an event in November. The Northern Illinois Huskies hosted the Toledo Rockets on Nov. 9 in the first football game played at Guaranteed Rate Field.
This was also first event under the ‘Guaranteed Rate Field name for the Sox home ballpark. Although the Huskies lost to Toledo 31-24, the Sox and the Illinois Sports Facility Authority felt the game was a success. Despite a low attendance of 10,180, the football game was successful for Huskies players and administration.
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According to Scott Merkin of whitesox.com, Huskies players were taking pitchers and recording video of the ballpark before the game started. With the baseball diamond being converted to a football field, it was an interesting challenge for groundskeeper Roger Brossard according to Merkin. However, Brossard was able to make the field look great as there was no clear indications of where the infield ended and outfield grass begin.
Although the Sox didn’t orchestrate this event as it was put together by the ISFA, the owners of Guaranteed Rate Field should explore hosting more non-baseball events in the future. The ballpark not only hosted a football game this season, but it also hosted a highly successful concert led by Chance The Rapper on Sept .24.
The concert which featured many artists including Chance The Rapper set an all-time attendance record for the ballpark at 48, 000 fans. With a success concert and football game this year, the ISFA should explore the possibility of hosting more non-baseball events at the ballpark in the future.
The ISFA could possibly host another football game with the University of Illinois as the home team. This would be a great way to have Guaranteed Rate Field broadcast to a wider audience on a Saturday afternoon in the fall. Imagine if the ballpark hosted a rivalry game between the Fighting Illini and Northwestern University. In 2010, Wrigley Field hosted a football game between the two schools, but they had to play going one way due to lack space in one of the end zones.
Northern Illinois and Toledo didn’t have this issue as there was enough space in both end zones on Wednesday night. The added bonus to hosting a football game between Illinois and Northwestern is a possible sellout in November. With both Northern Illinois and Toledo playing on a Wednesday night, it made it hard to attract many fans. It also didn’t help the Huskies entered the game with a 3-6 record.
Another potential non-baseball event Guaranteed Rate Field could host is an outdoor NHL game. With the Blackhawks continuing to be marketed by the NHL for outdoor games, the ISFA shouldn’t hesitate to have a Blackhawks game played at Guaranteed Rate Field. This would also complete a rare trifecta of outdoor games in Chicago as the Blackhawks have played at Wrigley Field and Soldier Field. Guaranteed Rate Field would certainly benefit from hosting an outdoor hockey game, especially if its a Winter Classic contest.
The ISFA should certainly take advantage of hosting more events at Guaranteed Rate Field. Other than sporting contests, the venue could host more concerts as well. This is a beautiful ballpark that hardly is recognized as such on the national stage. If last Wednesday’s contest was any indication, we could see more non-baseball events held at the ballpark. This is something Sox fans would definitely enjoy.