ARMOUR SQUARE — If you have a habit of throwing out your White Sox parking sticker when baseball season ends, make sure to hold onto it this year.
After the Sox finish the season, you could face hefty parking fines without it.
Anticipating droves of concert goers roving the residential areas around U.S. Cellular Field looking for parking during the upcoming Chance The Rapper festival on Sept. 24, Ald. Patrick D. Thompson (11th) has changed a city ordinance to require neighborhood folks to sport a “proof of residence” sticker on their parked cars during all events at the ballpark.
“The parking enforcement will apply not only to baseball games and sporting events, but actually it’s for any event at the Cell — or Guaranteed Rate Field — or, as I call it, Sox Park,” Thompson told DNAinfo Chicago. "You’ve got to have a Sox sticker to park in the streets."
The updated ordinance makes the 11th Ward's parking laws similar to those in the neighborhood's around Wrigley Field, Soldier Field and the United Center, Thompson said.
Read the updated law here:
At a recent meeting about the sold-out Sept. 24 show, Thompson said, it seemed the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the government agency that runs the ballpark, and Madison House Presents, the show promoter, overlooked how the parking situation would shake out come concert day — when more than 40,000 people are expected to visit the neighborhood.
It will cost $30 to park at the Cell, according to Thompson.
"'I said, 'Well, you’re not going to get 30 bucks from anybody,'" Thompson said, "'because they can pull onto our streets and park for free.'"
That's when the alderman decided to bring an updated parking ordinance to the City Council, which approved the change on Tuesday.
Bruce Springsteen played the Cell's last concert in 2003, one of only two shows booked at the ballpark since it opened in 1991. There have since been religious meetings — Joel Osteen rented the Cell in 2011 — and boxing matches. Osteen's religious gathering netted the sports facilities authority $177,000, according to its website. The Springsteen show and a Rolling Stones performance in 2002 exceeded $1 million.
On Sept. 24, for the first time in 13 years, U.S. Cellular Field will host a concert. Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper will headline Magnificent Coloring Day, a music festival stacked with stars, including John Legend, Alicia Keys, Skrillex and 2Chainz.
The concert follows an entertainment drought that has drawn stadium owners much criticism about how the ballpark has been used since Springsteen's 2003 tour.
Lou Bertuca, CEO of the sports facilities authority, is optimistic parking won't be an issue when the festival and more than 40,000 ticketed guests roll into the neighborhood.
“It’ll basically be akin a Cubs-White Sox game,” Bertuca said. “It’ll be very smooth.”
The updated ordinance will protect the neighborhood's parking rights during future events, Bertuca said.
Tickets are now on sale for a Nov. 9 college gridiron matchup at the Cell between Northern Illinois University and Toledo, the first football game in the park's history — an event the authority expects to draw hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Thompson said he would like to see more events at Sox Park.
"That’s an asset that we have. You can see the amount of revenue that can be generated not only for the sports facility to invest in the park, but the surrounding businesses," Thompson said. "I’m supportive of having an event, whether it be a concert or Northern Illinois playing football later in the fall. All those things are great."
But when it comes to organizing big events in the 11th Ward, parking can't be overlooked, he said.
“That’s a big concern for me," Thompson said, "because there are 45,000 people coming."
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