White Sox upper deck fans banned from rest of ballpark
Upper deck ticket holders are banned from going onto the main concourse and lower level at U.S. Cellular Field. Not just banned from the lower level seats (understandable), but...
--Banned from walking in walkways
--Banned from visiting the shops
--Banned from going to the White Sox hall of fame
--Banned from the center field batters eye
--Banned from enjoying the ballpark
They are only allowed to go to the attic-like upper deck. A vendor at the Cell told me that they have been doing the banning for three years now. Why? They say it's for security reasons. Too many people go to the main level. What a freakin joke! They Sox can barely get their ballpark half full. There is plenty of room on the main concourse with its mall-like qualities of broad paveways.
The real reason why they don't let upper deck ticket holders go to the rest of the ballpark is because they don't want their ballpark to look empty. Where do you look to see if a ballpark is full or empty? You look to the upper deck.
The evidence of why the White Sox fear their ballpark looking empty:
1) Their ballpark IS empty.
In the past 10 years, they could only fill 49.4% of their park. And they didn't even field a terrible team. They finished 2nd or higher nine of the ten years!
2) 6,660 upper deck seats eliminated.
They are so afraid of their ballpark looking empty, they chopped off the top eight rows after the 2003 season. At a time when ballparks are looking to add more seats. The Sox are cutting them back.
3) 300,000 cars see the upper deck daily.
The only inside part of the ballpark visible from the I-94 Dan Ryan Expressway is the upper deck. Surely, you cannot have thousands of cars seeing an empty ballpark during a game.
4) Force people to stay in the upper deck.
Level 500 visitors are not allowed to go anywhere else in the ballpark except the upper deck.
5) Sacrifice in-park shop sales.
They are so afraid that their park might look empty, that they are preventing 15,400 upper deck seats from going to a shop on the lower level. Of course, they never fill out the upper deck. But let's say half the upper deck (since they can only fill half their ballpark. That's 7700 fans that can't go to the shops on the lower level.
6) Willing to make their fans feel like second class.
I have to admit as a Cubs fan I felt like an outcast at U.S. Cellular, but I really felt like an outcast by being prohibited to visit the rest of their park. And Sox fans have to endure the stereotype of being trailer trash. You'd think the Sox brass would want to uplift their fans, but instead they try getting their ballpark look a bit fuller by making the upper deckers feel like second-rate citizens.
The Cell is truly a prison.
UPDATE: Six years later I visit the Cell's upper deck again and have a much different experience.