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November 22, 2008 [LINK / comment]

A modest proposal for "The Cell"

While passing through Chicago en route to points further west last month, I managed to take a couple quick photos of U.S. Cellular Field, so I added one of them to said page. The home of the White Sox is greatly improved over the original 1990 version, which was widely regarded as "sterile," but some of the recent changes were misguided, I think. In particular, there was no reason to bring in the fences just to be like all the other ballparks, and the trivial bit of "contrived asymmetry" in the left field corner serves no aesthetic purpose.

That got me to thinking about how they could improve "The Cell" even more, and I came up with a suggested alternative design, with a reconfigured outfield and bleachers. The outfield wall would be rebuilt where it was before 2004, but without an inner fence. The bullpens would be moved to deep left and deep right center field, partly offsetting the greater outfield distances in center field and the corners. Those changes are aimed in part at reestablishing a historical link with the old Comiskey Park, with the foul lines and center field being nearly as deep as in the "ancestral home" -- 348 vs. 352 feet, and 420 vs. 440 feet. My design would also restore the symmetrical layout which "New Comiskey Park" (as the stadium was known until 2003) did maintain. If there is no good reason to have an asymmetrical layout, while there is a good reason to have a symmetrical layout, go with the latter. And don't give me this crap about players demanding easier home runs: Chicago ballparks were traditionally known for their long distances down the foul lines, so come on, White Sox, be faithful to the city's heritage!

How much would those changes cost to implement? I figure the amount of construction work would be similar to the 2006 shift of the left field wall in Citizens Bank Park, which cost about $1 million. Factoring in the greater physical scale of the project, the changes to the bullpens, and the ground-level "picnic area" under the right field stands, it might cost $3 to $5 million. For a champion team, that's chump change.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 22 Nov 2008, 12: 53 PM

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