Back in 2003 the White Sox Stadium received the name U.S. Cellular Field. The infamous title, “Comiskey Park” was stripped away from the ballpark built in 1910. This happened because U.S. Cellular paid the White Sox organization 68 million dollars over the next 20 years for naming rights. However, this contract did not meet the 20 years. Now U.S. Cellular Field has received the name Guaranteed Rate Field. This happened because U.S. cellular paid the White Sox organization 13 million dollars to get out of the contract.
This change has caused controversy between the White Sox organization and the fanbase. Fans don’t seem to understand the change as, according to Chicago Tribune, the White Sox organization will not make a huge profit from this change as most of the money will go to state agency. The state agency serves as the landlord for the ballpark.
Controversy in the contract
The renaming of the ballpark also stirred up controversy as the name “U.S. Cellular Field” should have stayed until the year 2028, according to the contract that U.S. Cellular and the White Sox organization signed back in 2003. U.S. Cellular withdrew from owning the ballpark naming rights as the carrier pulled their brand from the market to partner with Sprint Nextel.
While U.S. Cellular paid 13 million dollars to get out of the deal with the White Sox organization, they gained 17 million dollars in their recent quarter. Therefore, U.S. Cellular has not received any personal backlash from this change. For U.S. Cellular, this change acted as a wise business move that fans don’t have control over.
A red downward arrow stirs up more controversy.
However, while fans don’t like the name change, they seem most upset by the Guaranteed Rate Logo that will also be used as the Field logo; a red downward arrow. This logo represents the low rates that Guaranteed Rate offers to customers, but fans believe that it will look negative towards the White Sox playing abilities. Fans think it will appear as a connotation to the White Sox losing.
While fans are displeased, higher ups remain happy.
On the other hand, the CEO of Guaranteed Rate, Victor Ciardelli, doesn’t understand the fans frustration with the logo. He has a hard time understanding how the red arrow connects negatively with the team’s playing ability. He says it’s simply the logo for his company and what his company offers customers. If anything, Ciardelli says that the White Sox organization has requested to make the logo help represent the pitchers’ efforts to keep the ERAs (Earned Run Averages) low.
Finally, whiles fans seem displeased by this change, the owner of the White Sox organization, Jerry Reinsdorf, seems happy with the change. He says, “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. 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 the end, just as fans weren’t happy with the name change of Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular Field, fans are also upset by the change of U.S. Cellular Field to Guaranteed Rate Field. Just as most fans accepted U.S. Cellular Field as an appropriate name for the White Sox home, maybe this will also be the case for fans with Guaranteed Rate Field. Time will only tell.