Tag Archives: how to get to a white sox game
Posted by Kurt Smith
Here it is Chicago tourists and baseball fans…your complete and ridiculously detailed guide for how to get to Guaranteed Rate Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox! I’ve researched the ways to get to a White Sox home game thoroughly, and have lots of helpful tips below for you below.
First a disclaimer: if you’re simply going to drive and park, that’s fine…it’s probably the easiest way to get to a White Sox baseball game. But that’s a whole thing in itself. You have multiple options as far as alternate routes, parking locations, and even restaurant shuttles, so I devoted a separate post to Guaranteed Rate Field parking. Plenty of useful knowledge there, if that’s your plan I’d check that out first.
So this post will cover public transit and other ways to get to Guaranteed Rate Field, including by bicycle!
Here’s the list broken down, so you can skip to what you want:
From Chicago, Part 1: CTA Red Line + Connections
From Chicago, Part 2: CTA Purple Line
From Chicago, Part 3: CTA Green Line
From Chicago, Part 4: CTA Bus Routes
From Illinois Suburbs, Part 1: Metra Rail (+ The Lou Jones Station)
From Illinois Suburbs, Part 2: Pace Express Bus
From Indiana Suburbs: The South Shore Line
From Milwaukee + Other Cities: Megabus/Amtrak
Plan Your Route With RTA
Guaranteed Rate Field By Bicycle
Okay, ready? Just a quick word from our sponsor and we’ll get started:
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: CTA Red Line. The venerable CTA Red Line train is the most commonly used train to get to Guaranteed Rate. The aptly named Sox-35th Street station is a very short and easy walk away east of the ballpark. Coming off the train, just follow the mass of White Sox fans over the bridge crossing the Dan Ryan Expressway. Try to ride in the front of the train, which is closest to the stairs at the station.
White Sox fans are packed on the Red Line both before and after games, although it’s nowhere near as bad as it can be for Cubs games. After the game is over, you can usually wait on the platform (or at the ChiSox Bar & Grill) for another car or two before a seat becomes available, especially on a weeknight. You shouldn’t have to wait too long. Gate 6 near left field is the closest gate to the station.
The Red Line isn’t modern and screeches in spots, but it is ruthlessly efficient. Trains run 24/7 on the Red (and Blue) Line. You should never have to wait more than 12-15 minutes for a train, and they are more frequent during rush hour.
All the other CTA subway lines transfer to the Red Line in the downtown Loop area of the city (so named because all of the CTA routes loop around it), so from just about anywhere in Chicago you can get to the Sox-35th stop with one transfer or less. Use whatever park-and-ride works; Howard at the north end is $6 for 12 hours, and Linden on the north end of the Purple Line is just $4 a day as I write this.
There are street parking spots close to the Red Line at certain stations, like near the Berwyn station or previously mentioned Chinatown. Most natives say that these neighborhoods are okay to leave your car in. I would book it in advance with SpotHero, of course.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: CTA Purple Line. For fans sneaking their way to the South Side from the north, the Purple Line is an express line that connects to the Red Line at Howard station, and continues southbound to the Loop during rush hour for a faster ride. You can transfer to the Red Line at several stations downtown (State/Lake is probably the shortest walk) and save yourself quite a few stops.
The Purple Line is a better alternative to the Red Line if it’s available and if you’re parking at the Howard station at the north end of the Red Line, since it is less likely to be crowded.
The Purple Line doesn’t run late enough to use it all the way back for night games, so you shouldn’t use it from Linden or anywhere else that the Red Line can’t reach. I’ve read that CTA provides extra service for the Purple and the Yellow Line to Skokie after night games, but I couldn’t confirm that.
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How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: CTA Green Line. From other points in Chicago, you can also transfer to or use the Green Line and either transfer to the Red Line at the Roosevelt station (as opposed to State/Lake station in the Loop, which has much more traffic), or stay on the Green Line to the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT station, which is three short blocks east of the ballpark and fewer stops from downtown.
This part of town used to be not so great and this method wasn’t recommended for newbies, but there is a police station nearby and the neighborhood has reportedly improved. If you know what you’re doing and want to avoid Red Line crowds, you should be fine. There will likely be a contingent of Sox fans at the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT stop after the game, but not a Red Line size crowd.
Green Line trains do not run all night—the last one usually leaves 35th St. at around 1:30 AM. You should probably be out of the area by then anyway.
All of the other El/subway lines transfer to the Red or Green Lines in the Loop. Transfers from the Blue Line to the Red at Jackson or the Green Line at Clark/Lake are free, although for Clark/Lake you will still need to run your Ventra card through a turnstile. The CTA says your card will not be charged for that transfer.
Transferring from another line will mean a long ride though. Riding the Blue from O’Hare to Sox-35th (transferring to the Red at Jackson) for example, will take close to an hour, so be prepared for the wait. I speak from experience.
Whatever train you use, be sure to get a round trip ticket or pass or Ventra card, and save yourself the pressure of buying another ticket with fans waiting in line behind you.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: CTA Bus. The White Sox suggest using any of a number of CTA buses to get to the ballpark, including the #1, #4, #24, #29, #35, #39, and #44. All of these buses drop riders off at or near the park, but not all of them run late into the evening; only the #4 (Cottage Grove) and the #35 (35th Street) run past midnight. The #4 runs “owl” service all night and you can jump on the Red Line at Washington and State Streets.
The #4 runs north-south for the most part and the #35 runs generally east-west. Other buses should probably only be used for day games; check the schedule on the CTA website before trying one. It’s not a bad idea for day games though, since few people think to use them. There are a multitude of buses that connect with the Red Line, and you may be able to find a viable park-and-ride for one of them. (See my RTA tip below.)
Near the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line stop that Green Line riders use to get to the park is the stop for the #29 bus, which runs on a generally parallel (and less crowded) route to the Red Line up to the Navy Pier and its attractions. The #29 runs north until about 11:30 PM on weeknights, so that is an alternative you could use to get downtown. Again, this wasn’t the best neighborhood, so check with a native to see if this is worthwhile.
CTA and Pace Bus (more about Pace in a minute) make “Ventra” cards available; which are transit debit cards on which you add value and then use for travel. If you live in the area, are spending a few days in Chicago, or traveling with multiple people, this saves the trouble of buying tickets and passes. As of this writing Ventra passes are not yet available for Metra trains.
$$$ Tightwad Tip! $$$ All train and bus lines all offer discounts for seniors, military personnel, disabled riders, students and children. If you or someone joining you falls under these categories, have a look on their websites for reduced fare information. Or you can look for it at the RTA website, which covers all of the Chicago transit entities.
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How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Metra Rail. Metra is a commuter rail service designed for commuters outside of the metropolitan area. Before 2011, fans could take any Metra route into the heart of the city and then take a short walk to the Red Line or a bus that would carry them the rest of the way to a game. But the kind folks at Metra actually built a new station for IIT students and Sox fans.
The Lou Jones-Bronzeville Metra station is on 35th and LaSalle, just east of the Expressway, and is the second to last stop on the Rock Island Line coming from Joliet. Metra has added extra service before and following Sox games–they run trains at 9:52 PM and 11:22 PM. Set your alarm if the game goes extras.
Other Metra routes are perfectly viable for getting to Guaranteed Rate. Metra has 12 lines that head into downtown Chicago from all directions, all of them end somewhere in the Loop. Several lines stop at the Ogilvie Transportation Center, just over a block south of the Clinton station on the Green Line.
The White Sox inexplicably don’t give directions on how to use Metra for a game, so if you can stand to do it, use the Cubs website. It gives directions (under “driving directions”, for some reason) to get to the Red Line from most of the Metra lines. You can shower afterward.
Some of the Cubs’ suggestions involve bus rides, so check the schedule of the buses too. Or check Google maps, because sometimes you can find an easier route than the Cubs recommend if you don’t mind walking a couple of blocks.
For example, coming from the south, the Cubs suggest using the Rock Island Line and then getting on the Brown Line at LaSalle and then transferring to the Red Line at Fullerton. In fact you can walk a block north on State Street and get on the Red Line at Jackson Station, saving a transfer.
Metra trains run frequently during rush hours, but otherwise they are quite infrequent, arriving on about an hourly basis. Check the schedule of your route beforehand so you aren’t sitting in the station too long and get there on time (there is a small shelter there). You can use Metra for a night game, but most of the last trains leave Chicago a little after midnight, so don’t dawdle too late. Remember to figure in the time getting to the Metra station from the Red Line.
Metra fares are broken down by zones; each zone you pass through will add to your fare. Again, get your tickets in advance rather than paying the conductor on the train, which is more expensive. There is a trip planner on Metra’s website, if this sounds as complicated to you as it does to me.
Metra is well regarded; it is fast and efficient and you can even drink alcohol on the train. I would make sure it’s not too difficult to get to the Red or Green Line though.
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How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Pace Bus. Pace, the bus service for out-of-town commuters, runs three “Guaranteed Rate Field Express” buses from six locations for nearly all Sox games, the exception being weekday games in April, May and September.
NOTE: As I write this, the Pace Express service is temporarily suspended due to staffing shortages. Rats. I’m still including this in case it starts up again though, because I’m a fan.
The locations and addresses are listed both on Pace’s and the Sox’s website: Markham, Tinley Park, Palos Heights, Oak Lawn, Bolingbrook and Burr Ridge. Pace has a flyer on their website that lists the departure times, generally 2-2.5 hours before the game.
All of the locations have free parking, and the bus ride is unbeatably cheap; just $4.50 each way as of this writing. You will need exact change or $1 bills. The bus drops you off at the door near the ChiSox Bar & Grille, which is kind of the main entrance. You do need to hustle back to your bus, since they depart 30 minutes after the last out. It’s a good idea to remember the route number too, since they are all similar.
Again, the Pace Bus is a great deal; parking is free, you’re spared traffic hassles, and best of all you can make new friends with the South Siders on the bus.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: South Shore Line. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) South Shore Line runs Indiana commuters as far east as South Bend to downtown Chicago, in case Notre Dame students decide to see a Sox game.
The South Shore Line ends at Millennium Station in Chicago, which is a short walk on Randolph Street to State Street and the Lake Station on the Red Line. Or you can hop off at the Museum Campus/11th Street station for a slightly longer walk to the Roosevelt Station and use the Red or Green lines. Fares on the South Shore Line are in relation to distance, similar to Metra, and are pretty reasonable. Parking lots are available at some stations but fills up quickly.
South Shore Line trains run till a little past midnight, so you should be okay using it. Just keep in mind the Red Line ride and walk to get there…give yourself at least an hour. Like Metra, they are infrequent later in the evening and you might wait a while for one.
$$$ Tightwad Tip! $$$ Metra and South Shore Line offer certain discounts as well. Kids can ride free on weekends, and you can get a weekend Metra pass for unlimited rides, which means a lot of bang for your buck if you’re some distance away. You can get significant group discounts on Metra, which may turn out to be easier than finding someone who is willing to drive the bus through the South Side.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Megabus. If you’re coming from a nearby metropolis like Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland or other cities, Megabus is a very low cost bus service that can take you from city to city for as low as $1 (not likely, but definitely possible if you book early enough). The bus stops at Chicago Union Station; from there you can walk about six blocks or take the 151 bus to the Jackson station of the Red Line. Pass by the Willis Tower on the way.
Megabus is as efficient as you’d expect city-to-city bus services to be; there are some complaints about their punctuality, so you may want to get there early. The buses are fairly comfortable and have wi-fi, and you can’t beat the price. I’ve saved a bunch a money on Megabuses.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Greyhound/Amtrak. If you’re coming into Chicago on Amtrak, the train drops you off at Union Station; from there you can follow the steps listed in the Metra section. The Greyhound Station is not far from the Clinton Station of the Blue Line.
Coming from Milwaukee or points between, Amtrak runs a daily commuter train called the Hiawatha, which can get you from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station to Union Station in about 90 minutes. It’s not the cheapest ride (just over $40 round trip), but it’s very comfortable, features at-seat cart service, and saves mucho traffic trouble. The Hiawatha doesn’t run late enough to make it viable for night games, but it’s a cool way to get to a day game if you have the means.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Use The RTA. If you use public transportation, the nice Chicago transit people have created a Regional Transit Authority, whose website has a comprehensive trip planner that shows you how to get from point A to point Sox and back using CTA, Metra and/or Pace. I highly recommend this if you’re using any of the suggestions here.
You can plug in your starting point and destination and find the easiest route using all of Chicago’s public transit systems—it will usually list multiple itineraries to choose from with fares included. You can also decide whether you want the quickest trip, fewest transfers or least walking. This is extremely helpful, given how complex the overall system really is.
Don’t forget to plug in the return trip as well…not all of the transit routes run all night.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Bicycle. You can two-wheel it to a Sox game; there are bike racks between Gates 2 and 3 and at the ChiSox Bar. If you are using a combination of bicycling and public transit, you can lock your bike up at most CTA stations, carry your bicycle on certain cars of the train, or put it on a bike rack on any CTA bus. There is a nice large bike rack (that gets used plenty) at the Sox-35th St. Station.
Chicago is a proudly bicycle-friendly city; there are over 400 miles of designated bike routes, including on 31st Street through the IIT campus. You can request a bicycle map from the city’s website.
Pace buses are also equipped with bicycle racks on the front end. The CTA website even features helpful instructions for how to secure your bicycle on a bus rack.
CTA and Metra allow you to carry your bike onto the train during non-rush hour (7-9 AM and 4-6 PM) periods, but if you’re using the Red Line to the game that will be difficult. You could be waiting a few trains before there is enough space for you to carry your bike on.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Divvy Bikeshare. Divvy Bikeshare is the bicycle sharing system in Chicago; in July of 2016 they added a station at Guaranteed Rate Field (at 35th and Wentworth). For Cubs games they actually offered free valet service to ensure a station for each bike, but I doubt they will do that for most Sox games. There are several other stations nearby, including one at IIT near the Green Line station.
Divvy members who pay an annual fee can rent a bicycle from any of hundreds of stations in the city and drop it off at another station; if you are lucky enough to have tickets to a Cubs game the same day, you can grab a bike from a station near Wrigley and cycle to Guaranteed Rate (I truly think of everything for baseball fans). Ride off that deep dish and save money on parking to boot.
Divvy also offers e-bikes and scooters too, in case you’re too tired to pedal after the game.
How To Get To Guaranteed Rate Field: Taxicab/Rideshare. Finally, I highly recommend against using a taxi especially after the game; before the game you can get dropped off a block or two away from the park to avoid getting caught up in traffic with the meter running.
The Sox suggest hailing a cab or Uber/Lyft between Gate 4 and Gate 6 on 35th, but many people may be trying this, and sitting in postgame traffic can get expensive. In addition, unless you’re familiar with the area, you probably won’t be comfortable wandering the south side of Chicago to find a cab. The Red Line is a better bet.
There you are my friends, your complete and ultimate guide for getting to a game or event at the new Comiskey Park (I really dislike the ballpark’s current name)!
Happy to help you more with your next Chicago White Sox game or Guaranteed Rate Field event…be sure to check out how to get a great seat, some great food items, and other tips here! (And check out my Wrigley Field advice too!)
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