Illinois taxpayers may have built Comiskey Park, but Jerry Reinsdorf thinks he owns it. Never mind that his team has played there rent-free for most of the stadium’s decade-long history. Now he’s offering to rename the park for any corporation willing to pony up the $40 to $50 million needed to renovate that despised upper deck, built on a dangerously steep incline to accommodate two rows of lucrative skyboxes. Reinsdorf wants to finally repair his greatest mistake, aside from causing the 1994 baseball strike.
The planned renovations are a bit mystifying. The Sun-Times reports the team has discussed taking out the upper deck’s top ten rows and replacing them with a decorative canopy (no word yet on whether this festive awning will sport advertisements). A new restaurant will supposedly take the place of the press box dedicated to Bill Veeck back in ’91–maybe they’ll call it the Veeck Room. At least now someone else will foot the bill: we spent $137 million the first time around.
The team says it wants the renovations completed by 2003. But according to Jim Edwards of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, Reinsdorf’s going to have to get government approval before he names the park after anybody. “They can propose it to the authority’s board, and reconfiguration has to go through the governor and the mayor,” says Edwards. “They have a lot of steps to go through before it happens.”
Maybe Jerry can threaten to move to Florida again.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.