Revitalizing Chicago: White Sox Stadium at The 78 Sparks Multibillion-Dollar Development Plan

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Chicago developer Related Midwest has unveiled plans for a new White Sox stadium that could serve as a catalyst for a multibillion-dollar development in the city’s South Loop area. The proposal for the 62-acre site, known as The 78, includes 5,000 residential units, an office building, a hotel, and numerous restaurants and bars along the south riverfront. The 35,000-to-38,000-seat stadium would be part of a larger plan to transform the vacant land into a vibrant community.

Ald. Nicole Lee, whose ward includes the current stadium in Bridgeport, expressed excitement about the proposal after being briefed by Related Midwest and team officials. She described the plan as “a very well-thought-out” with potential to revitalize the area.

In addition to the stadium, the project would feature 4,000 parking spaces beneath Roosevelt Road, a school, and a University of Illinois research center. It is estimated to cost billions of dollars to complete the project, with public financing likely to be needed.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker expressed skepticism about public funding for stadiums but indicated openness to considering proposals. The potential use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money for the stadium could be politically challenging for Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who has promised to scale back TIFs and subsidies for developers.

Discussions about the future of Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox’s current home, have included the possibility of the Chicago Fire soccer team moving there. However, no decisions have been made about alternative uses for the stadium.

Guaranteed Rate Field, which opened in 1991, is owned by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Under the current lease agreement, the team pays $1.5 million in annual rent and controls revenue from various sources.

The proposed new stadium would be financed similarly to other ballparks in the country, according to sources. The project’s timeline is likely to span several years, with construction occurring in stages.

While the housing market in downtown Chicago faces some uncertainties, experts believe that the South Loop site could be well-suited for multifamily housing due to its proximity to the city center and the riverfront. Planners anticipate that fans would access the new stadium using public transportation or ride-hailing services.

The development plans have also generated excitement from the University of Illinois and the Discovery Partners Institute, which is planned for the site. The institute aims to bring together academics, researchers, and investors to launch new businesses.

Ald. Pat Dowell, whose ward encompasses The 78, sees the proposed stadium as a positive anchor for the development. However, she cautions that there are still concerns to address, including traffic, security, and neighborhood access.

Overall, the plans for a new White Sox stadium and the accompanying development could potentially transform the South Loop and create a vibrant community in the heart of Chicago.