Fans of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs love to go back and forth about which team's ballpark delivers the more enjoyable experience. Well, I'm not going to get mixed up in that particular debate here. But it's clear that the powers that be at and around U.S. Cellular Field are just as "All In" as the team that plays there. Here's a round-up of some of the new features at the South Side baseball emporium, which welcomes back its resident ballclub today:
1. New Metra train stop. This past weekend, Rock Island line trains began stopping at a new station located at 35th St., just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway. For weekday afternoon games, Metra will run an additional outbound train that leaves the station after the final game and, for weekday evening games, Train 531 (departing LaSalle St. at 11:15 p.m.) will have more cars.
Plus, an extra outbound all-stop train will operate about 30 minutes after the game. Weekend games also get additional service: An additional inbound train will arrive at the station about an hour before the game and an extra outbound train will run about 30 minutes after the last out.
2. New exterior restaurant. Although it's no Wrigleyville in terms of variety, the area immediately around the Cell gets a huge boost this season with the opening of Bacardi at the Park sports bar and restaurant. Operated by the Gibsons Restaurant Group, this establishment will serve a relatively small menu of upscale ballpark food (including a USDA prime angus burger and ribs, pulled pork and brisket from an in-house smoker). It's also packed with 74 televisions situated on two levels. Look for it near Gate Five -- you don't need a ticket to get in.
3. New food inside the park. If you have tickets to a game, you can enjoy some new offerings within the cavernous confines of the Cell. The LG Skyline Club Level has an expanded menu for lucky ticketholders sitting there as does the Stadium Club. There's also a new "Artisan Bar" in the Stadium Club wherein you can quaff craft brews such as Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald and Flying Dog Pale Ale.
4. Better tequila! Just today, the White Sox announced a three-year marketing sponsorship deal with Familia Camarena Tequila. According to the press release, the hooch in question "... is made from 100 percent blue agave grown in the Los Altos Highlands region of Jalisco, one of Mexico's most prestigious tequila districts. Produced in Arandas at the family-owned and operated distillery, each bottle is double distilled, as well as bottled, labeled and packaged by hand." So you've got that going for you, Sox fans.