Source: Chicago Zoning Map

With state funding, White Sox’ new bar takes control of Bridgeport game day bar traffic

Credit for the title image goes to OpenCity Apps, click sale which hosts the fabulous zoning map that this comes from, nurse as well as several other great resources.\n\nBy James Fegan\n\nThe average Chicago White Sox game in 2012 brought 24, viagra 271 fans streaming to 35th & Wentworth, along with an untold amount of tailgaters and hangers-on. It’s a well below-average haul for a major league baseball game, but nevertheless 81 days of a much bigger crop of customers ready to engage in leisure spending than local bars and restaurants see otherwise.\n\nWith the state of Illinois’ help, the White Sox are making sure they take their share of that business.\n\n2012 was the first White Sox season that included the presence of Bacardi at the Park, a 10,000 square-foot bar and restaurant built with $3.2 million in funds from Illinois taxpayers, located in the best spot imaginable for pulling in White Sox game day foot traffic—wedged onto the side of U.S. Cellular Field itself.\n\n“Two-fold,” said Bill Guide, the owner of Bridgeport bar Cork & Kerry to describe his reaction to the arrival of the new establishment. “Happy as a White Sox fan, but concerned as a business owner.”\n\nOne look at the White Sox paraphernalia, or the baseball-themed menus makes it clear what market Guide is trying to tap into with Cork & Kerry, and from a barstool seat U.S. Cellular Field looms in the window like a nearby mountain. Only Armour Square park lies between the bar and the stadium. The unobstructed two-block walk makes for as ideal of a location as a Sox bar could hope for.\n\nAnything closer, would impede upon a territory that is zoned by the city as a planned development, managed by the Illinois Sports Facility Authority. As Crain’s Chicago Business reported in October 2011, the terms of the arrangement place the White Sox Chairman in position to approve any new additions.\n\n“There are no plans for any future development on 35th Street. And even if there were, Mr. Reinsdorf would have to give his thumbs-up before they could go forward,” wrote Shia Kampos of Crain’s.\n\nGuide says that Cork & Kerry is located well enough to make a fine living off the spillover traffic from the more centrally located Bacardi at the Park, but that trickle-down activity is not by design, according to researchers from the Lake Forest College and Holy Cross.\n\nIn a paper detailing the economic impact of U.S. Cellular Field, Robert Baade, Mimi Nikolova and Victor Matheson characterized the setup where White Sox ownership can sign off on whether competing bars or restaurants can establish themselves within in two blocks of the stadium as “a walled fortress.”\n\n“[U.S. Cellular Field] internalizes all economic activity in order to maximize revenues for the franchise at the expense of local economic development,”\n\nGuide has been able to accomplish the dream he crafted in college to run a sports bar outside the  White Sox park, but admits that he’s seen others struggle in the face of the new competition.\n\nSince Bacardi at the Park opened, 260 Sports Bar on 26th street, and restaurants Cobblestone’s and Johnnie’s have closed their doors.\n\n“There could be a lot of other factors involved with those businesses, obviously,” Guide was quick to point out.\n\nBut has the gleaming new, state-funded bar in the heart of the neighborhood had an impact?\n\n“No doubt about it.”\n\n \n\nJames Fegan is the editor of Southside Showdown a contributor to The Third City and a journalism student at DePaul University.

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