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Crosstown Classic: A Guide To Sox Park For North Siders

By Joe Ward | July 26, 2017 5:58am

ARMOUR SQUARE — Baseball fans travel well, especially when a championship contender is playing its crosstown rival separated by 8 miles.

Luckily, fans will find pretty friendly confines on the South Side. Here's everything North Side fans — and others not so familiar with South Side baseball — need to know about Sox Park.

The name: Notice we have been using Sox Park? The name change at the ballpark that took hold in November 2016 was widely mocked then — and is still causing an identity crisis of sorts for White Sox fans. Many still casually refer to it as The Cell, others say Sox Park, and these shirts calling it Comiskey Park are popular on the South Side. Anyone saying Guaranteed Rate Field is probably a Cubs fan. (Fun fact: The mortgage lender's corporate headquarters is about a mile from Wrigley Field.)

RELATED: U.S. Cellular Changed Its Name, And People Are Freaking Out

The park: Regardless of the name, North Siders will find an inviting and user-friendly ballpark at 35th and Shields. It doesn't have the history of the North Side park, but the park is a modern, comfortable arena with plenty of amenities, a pretty fancy Jumbotron, activities for kids and the best ballpark food in town.

An actual park: Wrigley Field is undergoing a modernization project, including the much ballyhooed "Park at Wrigley," which is more like a courtyard with green space. Sox Park actually does have a park right outside its doors: Armour Square Park.

The park is a classic neighborhood park with a playground and historic field house featuring a pool and tennis courts that are regularly used for pickup hockey games. It's a great meeting place before or after Sox games.

Armour Square Park. [Provided/Chicago Park District]

Parking/tailgating: Oh, and you can actually drive to this park. Not being surrounded by parking lots definitely improves Wrigley's charm, but most modern arenas have them for a reason. Parking is generally a breeze at Sox Park and helps the park's status as accessible and fan-friendly. It'll cost $20 to park during the Crosstown Classic.

But that's not even the argument in favor of its parking lots. Tailgaiting is allowed, and aside from the Soldier Field South Lot on Bears game days, this is the best tailgating spot in the city. Come early: Lots will open three hours prior to the game Wednesday and Thursday instead of the usual two hours, the Sox said. Bring a charcoal grill and be prepared to make friends.

Sox Fans tailgate in rain or shine. [DNAinfo/Ed Komenda]

The neighborhood: Did you know Sox Park is also nestled in a historic neighborhood? Bridgeport doesn't have the night life and bustle of Lakeview. It's a quaint, residential area filled with families and local businesses who've been here for generations, and that makes it as unique a setting for a ballpark as Wrigley Field.

And, yes, there are great places to grab a drink or some food pre or post-Sox game. Here are some places holding events for the Crosstown Classic.

Shinnick's Pub, a quintessential neighborhood tavern a few blocks from the park, is hosting its first ever street fest on Thursday. Like a traditional South Side block party, fans can get food from Bub City, enter the bags tournament and watch the game on a projector screen. 3758 S. Union Ave. beginning at 1 p.m.

Cork & Kerry will be hosting Revolution Brewery before the game Wednesday. There will be games, giveaways, a raffle for upcoming Sox home game tickets and free samples of Revolution brews. 3258 S. Princeton Ave. from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

ChiSox Bar & Grill is attached to the stadium via a ramp over 35th Street. [Facebook/ChiSox Bar & Grill]

ChiSox Bar & Grill, the team-owned bar just north of park, will be open five hours prior to each game and will stay open for at least two hours after the games, the team said. Lot B will open at 1 p.m. both days to accommodate those going to the bar.

What to know: First pitch for both games is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. The team expects a big crowd and is encouraging fans to get there as early as possible (gates will open at 5:10 p.m. both nights).

Former Blackhawk Brian Campbell will throw out the first pitch Wednesday, and Sox fan and gymnast Ashton Locklear will throw out the first pitch Thursday.

On Wednesday, the first 10,000 fans to enter the ballpark will receive a White Sox lunch cooler, the team said. There is no scheduled giveaway for Thursday.