In the Windy City, Related Midwest is teaming up with Gensler to relocate the Chicago White Sox from the South Side to the South Loop. The new White Sox stadium is being planned at The 78, a tentative mixed-use megadevelopment backed by Related Midwest. Under the current plan, the Sox’s current home at Guaranteed Rate Field would be repurposed as a soccer stadium.
The 78 would deliver a 62-acre mixed-use neighborhood along the Chicago River just south of Roosevelt Road, as reported by Lee Bey for the Chicago Sun Times. According to Bey, the ballpark would anchor the complex surrounded by a bevy of hotels, restaurants, and bars contained in high-rises.
How the new ballpark will be financed is still up in the air. Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker has said in the past that he disdains using taxpayer funds for sports stadiums. Related Midwest officials said they’re seeking assistance from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA) to “rearrange existing bonds” for the venture. The announcement comes amid tense negotiations between the Chicago Bears and suburban school districts about relocating Soldiers Field to Arlington.
So far, the White Sox stadium relocation has been supported by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and other city officials working closely with the Sox’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf. “My conversation with Jerry was very positive. One of the things I did appreciate in our conversation is that what they’re considering, it’s the way new stadiums should and could look. That they have community benefit,” Mayor Johnson said at a recent council meeting, as reported by Bey.
Renderings by Gensler show a ballpark replete with spectacular views of the Chicago skyline, including the Sears Tower. Gensler designed the stadium’s orientation so that home plate is at the southwest corner of the site, yielding optimal view corridors out into the city. The new stadium would have a slew of high-rise towers as its neighbors. The 78 would also have a new public plaza located just north of the stadium to be fitted with a large video screen facing the terraced park.
Related Midwest and Gensler also showed a potential scheme for repurposing Guaranteed Rate Field and its surrounding sea of parking spaces. Renderings of the team’s “Bridgeport Vision” shows the existing ballpark repurposed as a soccer stadium and a walkable urban grid fitted with housing on top of the parking lots.
Negotiations between Related Midwest and the City of Chicago are ongoing.