CHICAGO -- U.S. Cellular Field will become Guaranteed Rate Field as of Nov. 1, the White Sox announced on Wednesday.The White Sox and Guaranteed Rate agreed on a 13-year naming rights agreement, changing the name of the White Sox home. The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns and operates the
CHICAGO -- U.S. Cellular Field will become Guaranteed Rate Field as of Nov. 1, the White Sox announced on Wednesday.
The White Sox and Guaranteed Rate agreed on a 13-year naming rights agreement, changing the name of the White Sox home. The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns and operates the ballpark, approved the name change in a board meeting Wednesday.
"We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement in the press release. "We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field."
As for a new nickname for the ballpark, the White Sox will leave that decision to the fans.
"I've seen a couple of the really good ones and I've got a chuckle out of them," White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer said during a Wednesday conference call. "It's interesting because obviously U.S. Cellular Field got shortened to the Cell. Is it G-Rate Field? Or The Rate? I don't know. We've kind of kicked it around."
In addition to the naming rights partnership, the White Sox and Guaranteed Rate have agreed on sponsorship elements associated with White Sox baseball, which include various branding, promotional and hospitality benefits, along with joint marketing opportunities. Guaranteed Rate becomes the official mortgage and title company of the White Sox.
"We're thrilled to be able to welcome what's obviously a very enthusiastic partner in Guaranteed Rate who shares our ongoing passion for Chicago for our fans and their commitment to community service," Boyer said.
Upon the completion of existing naming rights payments to the White Sox, ISFA will receive all incremental naming rights revenue from this new agreement with Guaranteed Rate. The White Sox retain an option under the team's lease for the ballpark, which if exercised, could extend this naming rights deal an additional year through 2030.
This ballpark was known as New Comiskey Park from 1991 to 2002, before a naming rights agreement changed the ballpark's name to U.S. Cellular Field from 2003 to 2016. Financial terms of the new agreement were not released. U.S. Cellular exited the Chicago market in '13 but stayed a supportive partner for the White Sox. U.S. Cellular also let the White Sox know that if the team found something that made sense for them, they would be open to the change. So the White Sox put out feelers to a "very small group of companies," per Boyer.
Boyer mentioned that a letter was written earlier Wednesday to the entire White Sox staff, announcing the new agreement and talking about "shared DNA" in a true marketing partner.
"When you use words that we use often like pride, passion and tradition, especially when it comes to the Chicago market … you love to find marketing partners that share that same enthusiasm for those three things," Boyer said. "Guaranteed Rate has a significant commitment to the city of Chicago and giving back to the city of Chicago but an even further commitment to customer service and making sure their mortgage experience is better than everybody else's.
"That's something we talk about quite often around here is making sure that our ballpark experience is the best that it can be, the best in the Major Leagues, and we're always trying to reset the bar on ourselves. And we really appreciate the fact that Guaranteed Rate felt the same way in their industry. This is a nice step today toward continuing to fulfill the vision of putting the best possible club out on the field that can be out there for our fans.
"And to have Guaranteed Rate come in and be very excited and enthusiastic about activating their relationship, not just at the ballpark but in the community, is something that allows us to successfully pair our two brands," Boyer added.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.