Updated U.S. Cellular Field Critique

Prior to this past weekend, I hadn’t been to the Cell in almost 10 years or so. During that gap in time, U.S. Cellular Field endured some renovation projects that really did make the park a lot nicer to look at. Before going down to the game this weekend, I didn’t think very highly of the park based on what I had seen when I was there in the past. Now, I have some new and similar opinions compared to the ones that I had before this past weekend.

The outside of the stadium looks pretty cool. I’m not a huge fan of concrete exteriors, but it doesn’t look all that bad on the Cell. Walking up to the stadium from the east you get a cool view of the park from beyond the left field bleachers. You’re also walking over the Dan Ryan expressway at the same time. When you get up to the stadium on the north side of the park, there is a really cool Chicago sports store that sells merchandise for the Sox, Cubs, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. I would recommend checking this place out. On the second floor of the store, you can actually have your game ticket scanned and then walk over a bridge (over 35th street) and into the park. The store and stadium are connected by this walkway/bridge.

My seat was in the upper deck for this game. Apparently at U.S. Cellular Field, if your seat is not in the first level, you are not allowed to walk around the park on the main level. You are restricted to whichever level your seat is on. If you have read any of my past write-ups on MLB stadiums, you know by now that one of my favorite things to do is walk around each park that I go to. Well, since I was restricted this past weekend to only the upper level of the park, I couldn’t walk around the whole stadium. This really hacked me off. No other park in baseball that I have been to (17 of them) has had this “rule.” So since I wasn’t able to walk around the lower level of the park, I got a good look at the upper level concourse.

The concourse on the upper level was actually pretty spacious, considering the stadium was built in 1991. The playing field is not visible while walking around the concourse, but that’s the way that every upper deck in baseball is. Along the field-side of the concourse, the wall was lined with old pictures from the White Sox’ history. This was a nice touch and provided something interesting to look at/read while walking along the concourse. The food seemed to be pretty decent. I had a pulled pork sandwich, which wasn’t great nor bad.

The playing field itself is not the most attractive in baseball, but it’s not terrible either. When the park was first built, the big “wall” behind the outfield stands used to be made up of white pillars. Since the renovations were done on the park, those pillars holding up the advertisements have now been painted black, which looks a lot better than the white did. The original seats that were put into the park were blue, but have since been switched to a dark green color. Again, the dark green looks a lot better than the blue. Also, a small deck/patio area was built above and behind the left field bleachers during renovations. They call it the “Fundamentals” area where kids can get some quick baseball tips and lessons I believe. Don’t quote me on that. The scoreboard in dead center field is nothing great. They carried over from the old Comiskey Park the lollipop-looking circles that sit atop the scoreboard. Aside from that, there’s nothing too interesting about it. The screen on the scoreboard that shows replays and videos is pretty small in comparison to other parks. This screen also provides statistics about each player during the game, and give the score of the game obviously. Behind the right field bleachers is another screen that gives more statistics as well as the batting order for each team. Just beyond the center field wall there is a black platform that is covered in green ivy which looks pretty nice. It acts as the batter’s eye.

Going back outside the park, the surrounding area is a lot nicer and safer than what it used to be. There is about a 3-4 block perimeter surrounding the park that has been nicely redone and is now much safer to walk around than it used to be. Just don’t stray too far outside that area…

That’s pretty much all I can write about regarding this park for now. Maybe in the future I’ll get to access the lower level. Even with the renovations, however, I am not ranking this park any higher than I previously had it.

For my other MLB stadium rankings, click here.

NFL Stadiums I Would Most Like To Visit

These are the top 10 NFL stadiums that I most want to visit. I going based off of the atmosphere at each stadium, and the history behind each stadium.

10. Gillette Stadium – Patriots

It would be really fun to see a game here during a snow storm like they’ve had in the past.

9. Metlife Stadium – Giants/Jets

It’s the newest, and arguably the nicest stadium in the league.

8. Louisiana Superdome – Saints

Without a doubt one of the loudest stadiums in the league.

7. M&T Bank Stadium – Ravens

This place is frequently described as being one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL.

6. Qwest Field – Seahawks

The fans here are known as the “12th Man” because of the noise that they produce when the Seahawks’ defense takes the field.

5. Arrowhead Stadium – Chiefs

Again, this place is a strong candidate for being the loudest stadium in the NFL. Also, the name “Arrowhead” just sounds intimidating.

4. Invesco Field – Broncos

This stadium has been known to shake when the fans start “stomping” their feet to mimic a stampede. With the Rocky Mountains just off in the distance, the atmosphere and setting of Invesco Field are tough to beat.

3. Heinz Field – Steelers

Just about every game here seems like a playoff game. When the Terrible Towel gets going, look out.

2. Cowboy Stadium – Cowboys

It’s the largest and most high-tech stadium in the league. Who wouldn’t want to see a game here?

1. Lambeau Field – Packers

No other stadium in the NFL speaks history like Lambeau Field. The “Frozen Tundra” is the cathedral of all NFL stadiums, and has to be the best home-field advantage in the league.

My Top 10 Best NHL Atmospheres

I haven’t seen a home game for all of these teams, but I have watched them all on TV many times. I am ranking them based on the atmosphere inside each team’s stadium for their home games. I’d also like to see a game at each one of these arenas.

10. HP Pavillion – Sharks

Easily one of the loudest arenas in hockey, especially come playoff time.

9. Scotiabank Saddledome – Flames

It’s a sea of red here for each game. Just about every fan wears a Flames jersey to the game, which is something you don’t see at every stadium.

8. Wells Fargo Center – Flyers

They’re third in attendance in the entire NHL. Philadelphia fans are always tough on their teams, but they are one of the loudest bunches in sports.

7. Rogers Arena – Canucks

All Canadian hockey teams have great home atmospheres, but Vancouver is one of their best. They showed just how loud they can be during last years Cup Finals.

6. Air Canada Centre – Maple Leafs

Regardless of how well their team is playing, they continuously sell out each game (currently 5th in NHL attendance). Also, being one of hockey’s original 6 adds to the history of attending a Leafs game.

5. Joe Louis Arena – Red Wings

They don’t call Detroit “Hockeytown” for no reason. Just take a look at all the banners hanging above the ice. I would have liked to have had the Joe higher on my list, but I’ve seen too many games where there have been a lot of empty seats in the stands even though the games are all sold-out.

4. MTS Centre – Jets

Every game played here seems like a playoff game. The fans in Winnipeg had their team returned to them this season, and they are doing everything they can in the stands to will their team to the playoffs.

3. TD Garden – Bruins

I was very impressed as to how loud this place got during last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Boston, and every original 6 team, has some great fans and they proved that during the postseason a year ago. It was tough trying to decide whether this should be number 2 or 3…

2. United Center – Blackhawks

It’s called the “Madhouse on Madison” for a good reason. This place is a madhouse night in and night out, while leading the NHL in attendance, and it all starts with the national anthem. If you think you’ve heard “loud,” just wait until you hear this place erupt.

1. Bell Centre – Canadiens

Nobody in hockey has more Stanley Cup banners than Montreal. Whether it’s cheering, singing, or chanting, these fans are always making it hard to hear inside the Bell Centre. It’s often been referred to as “the toughest place to play” in hockey.

Please feel free to share your own opinions!