If the White Sox leave Bridgeport, their home for over a century, the emotional toll on the area would be “heartbreaking” and “devastating,” businesses said Tuesday.
“Bridgeport and the White Sox just go together, they always did,” said Carrie Stegniller, a manager, bartender and server at Turtle’s Bar and Grill, a block north of the ballpark.
“The White Sox are our family and we’re their family.”
Several hours before the scheduled first pitch between the White Sox and surging Seattle Mariners, “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by the Fugees played over the speakers at Turtle’s.
Stegniller has worked at the restaurant for 15 years — and been a White Sox fan even longer.
Amid reports the Sox are open to relocating, Stegniller told the Sun-Times a move would hit her in the pocketbook and make it more difficult to pay for her kids’ education.
“Winter is [a] very slow season for this business,” she said. “And the highlight of all of our work depending on the money is Sox season. And it never disappointed ever, you know, and so, that will be heartbreaking and actually devastating if they left us.”
A move also is not good news to Jon Jones, a follower of the team who grew up “about a three-minute drive from the stadium.”
He was enjoying some fries on a bench along 35th Street on Tuesday.
“The Sox are a staple in this neighborhood, just like how Wrigley [Field] is a staple on the North Side,” Jones said.
Staple or not, Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, 87, is considering moving the White Sox or selling the team when its lease at Guaranteed Rate Field expires in six years, according to a report in Crain’s Chicago Business.
The possibility of moving is serious enough, according to Crain’s, that a Chicago developer is preparing a bid, and possibilities exist for a move to a new stadium in the city or suburbs, or even relocating to Nashville, Tennessee.
While Joe Micetich, who grew up in Bridgeport, said the neighborhood could survive without the team, “no way do we want to see them move.”
“The team will be missed. It’s been here forever,” said Micetich, 42 and a bartender at Cork & Kerry at 3259 S. Princeton Ave. near the ballpark. “There are many businesses they help out.”
But Micetich thinks the whole thing might be a ploy by Reinsdorf to get a better deal with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns the stadium, when the team’s lease is up.
Not everyone, however, would miss the Sox.
Just across the street from Turtle’s, Stix N’ Brix Red Line owner Mario Scalise said the team “didn’t mean much” to his restaurant.
“A lot of times, people think when you buy a [business near a] sports stadium you generate all the sales from it. But whenever the Sox are playing, the regular customers don’t come,” Scalise said.
“They take up parking, they screw up traffic. There’s not really much of a benefit for us in particular.
Some residents and business owners say the White Sox should focus on just playing better baseball.
Stephanie Ganal, owner of Grandstand, 600 W. 35th St., has met Hall of Famers from every major Chicago sports team at the store her family has owned for nearly four decades.
That includes Blackhawks winger Bobby Hull and White Sox legends Robin Ventura and Frank Thomas.
She said foot traffic makes up a “huge part of the business” and said the team moving would be a “big change for the neighborhood.”
But she said the store’s fans “know where we are, who we are and what we carry” if the team were to move.
“We’ve built a staple for the last 38 years. I’m not concerned about [the Sox relocating]. My huge concern is this team actually proving who they are and what they can be.”