What's new for Cubs, Sox fans this year?
Who's ready for some baseball?
Things will be a little different this year for the Cubs and White Sox, as well as for fans going to see games at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field.
Some changes are good, and others, maybe not so good. Here's a roundup of what to expect:
To no one's surprise, a World Series win prompted a rise in ticket prices by 19 percent this year (and up to 31 percent for some season ticket holders). On the secondary market, Cubs tickets -- already perennially pricey -- are the most expensive tickets in all of Major League Baseball, according to TickPick.com. The average secondary market ticket price for a game at Wrigley Field is $150.63, the ticket broker company reports.
At the ballpark:
Wrigley Field has been a construction site all winter, as the Cubs make headway on the massive, $750 million "1060" project. The new Cubs office building, at Clark and Waveland, is almost finished. It'll have ground-level restaurants and retail stores. Next to it will be The Park at Wrigley, a triangular-shaped plaza for events, restaurants and a Starbucks. The new Hotel Zachary, on the northwest corner of Clark and Addison, where the old McDonald's used to be, won't be finished until 2018. See artist renderings of what everything will look like at WrigleyField.com.
Inside the park, the most notable change is that the bullpens have been moved under the bleachers, so pitchers will be out of sight when they're warming up. New seats were added along the foul lines, where the bullpens used to be.
Barring some sort of catastrophe, the Cubs are considered a virtual lock to make the playoffs and win the division, says Daily Herald Cubs reporter Bruce Miles. They are also favorites to go to the World Series again this year.
Notable roster changes:
The Cubs basically brought back the same team they had last year, along with two new players.
All eyes will be on newly acquired pitcher Wade Davis, the closer who replaces Aroldis Chapman. Davis played on the Kansas City Royals when they won the World Series. He's had injuries and an unimpressive spring, but the Cubs hope Davis will pitch like he did with the Royals.
Also, former St. Louis Cardinal Jon Jay will be in the outfield, replacing Dexter Fowler and mentoring Albert Almora.
The Cubs will raise the World Series championship banner Monday, April 10, on opening night at Wrigley Field. On Wednesday, April 12, selected fans will present the players and coaches with their championship rings. Throughout the season, World Series-themed giveaways are planned to the first 10,000 fans who arrive at the ballpark, including replicas of the World Series trophy on April 15, The Final Out bobbleheads May 20, and Championship Parade Confetti Globes on June 20.
The Sox didn't change their ticket prices this year. They also have the least expensive secondary market tickets in MLB, with the average ticket price at $30.26, according to TickPick.com.
This year, White Sox premium seat tickets will feature 81 different unique works of art -- one for every home game. They depict top players, including Minnie Miñoso and Billy Pierce, plus moments from the past decade or old scorecards. Even if you don't have the premium tickets, the designs will be downloadable after each game, allowing you to enter your seat and section number.
Artist-created tickets will be offered to this year's White Sox games.
- Courtesy of 2017 Chicago White Sox
At the ballpark:
Some fans will always call it "Comiskey" (including Daily Herald columnist Mike Imrem) regardless of who buys the naming rights, but the South Side ballpark is now named Guaranteed Rate Field.
Also this year, the Sox ended a 30-year marketing deal with Miller Brewing Company, signing a new deal with Modelo, a Mexican beer. But there will still be a variety of beers available, from Budweiser to Goose Island. The menu will expand, the Sox announced Wednesday, to include items like a Latin Vegetable Salad and a "King 14" double cheeseburger with Italian sausage on top.
Zero. It's rebuilding year, says Daily Herald White Sox beat reporter Scot Gregor.
Notable roster changes:
The Sox have a new manager, Rick Renteria, who managed the Cubs in 2014 and was fired when Joe Maddon became available. Renteria was the White Sox bench coach last year. Some of the team's most exciting prospects will start the season in their AAA league, and possibly come up later in the season, including second baseman Yoan Moncada (acquired in the Chris Sale trade), and pitchers Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito.
They'll retire Mark Buehrle's No. 56 jersey before a June 24 game against the Oakland Athletics. Fans at the game will be given a commemorative pin. Also, on May 13, the first 20,000 fans will be given a Hawk Harrelson Alarm Clock, with an alarm that plays a clip of the famed Sox announcer saying, "You can put it on the boaaaaaaard, YES!"