White Sox Stadium

Mayor Johnson had ‘very positive' conversation with Reinsdorf about White Sox stadium project

Mayor Brandon Johnson was asked about the White Sox' rumored stadium project on Wednesday

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Recently, reports of a new stadium for the White Sox emerged, first reported by the Sun-Times.

On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was asked about the White Sox stadium in a recent press conference. He mentioned conversations with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf while broaching the subject of the Bears stadium desires, too.

"I've had really good conversations with the leadership of our sports teams," Johnson said. "A really good conversation with Kevin Warren and the Bears. My conversation with Jerry (Reinsdorf) was very positive. One of the things that I did appreciate in their presentation is that what they're considering is the way new stadiums should and could look, that they have community benefits.

"We have not gotten into the intricacies and the details just yet….there'll be time for that."

Last week, Johnson and Reinsdorf released a joint statement to NBC Chicago about the report, saying that both entities have been engaged in discussions about the team’s future home. The statement did not offer specifics on the proposed South Loop project.

“Mayor Brandon Johnson and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met to discuss the historic partnership between the team and Chicago and the team’s ideas for remaining competitive in Chicago in perpetuity,” the statement read. “The partnership between the city and the team goes back more than a century and the Johnson administration is committed to continuing this dialogue moving forward.”

Here’s an overview of where the White Sox stand now, and how we arrived at these stadium negotiations:

What is the White Sox’ Current Situation?

The White Sox have played at Guaranteed Rate Field since 1991 when they moved across the street from Comiskey Park.

That move came after years of political wrangling, with Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson helping to hammer through a deal to publicly finance the ballpark through the Illinois Sports Facilities Sports Authority.

That stadium deal came after the White Sox explored the idea of moving to St. Petersburg, Florida, with the government there constructing what would become Tropicana Field.

After the White Sox opted not to move to Florida, Major League Baseball eventually awarded the Tampa Bay Rays to the St. Petersburg area.

Each year, the White Sox pay rent to the state of Illinois for usage of Guaranteed Rate Field. The state of Illinois is responsible for “capital repairs” within the ballpark, according to the terms of that lease.

State taxpayers owe $50 million on the bonds used to construct the stadium, and those funds still need to be retired.

The lease is set to expire following the conclusion of the 2028 season, and as a result, the White Sox are reportedly exploring their options when it comes to their future home. One rumored location for the next stadium is "The 78," a plot of land in the South Loop.

For more information about "The 78," check out NBC's coverage here.

What Led to These Rumblings?

In early August, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that the White Sox would consider moving out of Guaranteed Rate Field, as their lease expires at the conclusion of the 2028 season.

While the White Sox have said that no conversations have taken place, Crain’s also reported that the club would consider multiple options, including even moving to Nashville.

“We have not had any conversations about our lease situation,” team spokesman Scott Reifert told Crain’s. “With six years remaining, it is naturally nearing a time where discussions should begin to take place. The conversations would be with the city, ISFA and the state, and most likely would be about vision, opportunities and the future.”

Is Nashville a Legitimate Option?

This week, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with Nashville Mayor Freddie O'Connell while the winter meetings were going on.

The team confirmed the meeting took place, but declined to identify what was discussed.

No MLB-ready stadium currently exists in Nashville, but there has been a movement to try to earn an expansion franchise within the city should the league expand to 32 teams.

In terms of the political environment, O'Connell was elected mayor earlier this year, with his opposition to a $2.1 billion stadium for the Tennessee Titans serving as a cornerstone of his campaign.

The Titans' stadium project was ultimately approved and is expected to open in 2027.

What About Relocation Within Chicago?

In August, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the White Sox would consider a retractable-roof ballpark within the city, and that they could consider options outside of the South Side.

Nightengale’s report indicated that the team could potentially take a look at sites near the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks play. Jerry Reinsdorf also owns the Bulls, and could look to move the Sox to the West Side.

Another potential option? Soldier Field, as the White Sox will reportedly keep tabs on what ends up happening with the Chicago Bears as they mull their options for their future home.

The Bears have purchased land in Arlington Heights, with the intention of building a stadium there. However, the Bears have remained in communication with the city of Chicago about potentially remaining at Soldier Field in some capacity, and as a result, the White Sox could even look to move to Arlington Heights if the Bears decide to remain within city limits.

Is There a Timeline for a Decision?

In short, no. The White Sox are still locked into their lease until at least 2029, and they have yet to officially open talks with the state of Illinois about their status at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Bears are also locked into discussions about their future, which could lead to delays in the White Sox approach if they are seriously considering a move to Arlington Heights or to the Soldier Field site on the lakefront.

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