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Where Things Stand – NBC Chicago

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The Chicago White Sox have called the South Side home for more than a century, but with the team’s lease expiring in the coming years, there’s a lot of talk about what’s next for the club.

The team’s lease at Guarantee Rate Field runs through the end of the 2028 season, but beyond that, the team is apparently considering numerous options.

Here’s what we know.

What is the current situation of the White Sox?

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

The move came after years of political wrangling, with Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson helping to broker a deal to publicly fund the stadium 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 to build what would become Tropicana Field.

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

Each year, the White Sox pay rent to the State of Illinois for use of the field at a guaranteed rate. The State of Illinois is responsible for “major repairs” within the approximate scope, under the terms of this lease.

State taxpayers owe $50 million on bonds used to build the stadium, and those funds have yet to be retired.

The lease is set to expire after the conclusion of the 2028 season and, therefore, the White Sox would be explore their options regarding their future home.

What led to these rumblings?

Early August, Crain’s Chicago Company reported that the White Sox would consider leaving the guaranteed rate field as their lease expires at the end of the 2028 season.

While the White Sox said no conversations had taken place, Crain’s also reported that the club would consider several options, even including a move to Nashville.

“We haven’t had any conversations about our lease situation,” team spokesman Scott Reifert told Crain’s. “With six years to go, the time when discussions should start to take place is naturally approaching. Conversations would take place with the city, ISFA and state, and would most likely be about vision, opportunities and the future.

Is Nashville a legit option?

This week, White Sox President Jerry Reinsdorf met with Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell while the winter meetings were in progress.

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

No MLB-ready stadiums currently exist in Nashville, but there has been a movement to try to gain an expansion franchise within the city if the league expands 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 has finally been approved and is expected to open in 2027.

What about relocation to Chicago?

In August, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the White Sox would consider a retractable roof ballpark in the city and that they might consider options outside of the South Side.

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

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

The Bears purchased land in Arlington Heights, with plans to build a stadium there. However, the Bears have remained in communication with the city of Chicago regarding the possibility of remaining at Soldier Field in some capacity and, as a result, the White Sox could even consider moving to Arlington Heights if the Bears decide to stay within limits. from the city.

Is there a timetable for a decision?

In short, no. The White Sox are still tied to their lease through at least 2028, and they have yet to officially open negotiations with the state of Illinois over their status at Guarantee Rate Field.

The Bears are also engaged in discussions about their future, which could cause delays in approaching the White Sox if they seriously consider moving to Arlington Heights or the lakefront Soldier Field site.

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