Sox fans readying to use alternate route during Red Line construction
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter email@example.com May 10, 2013 7:56PM
Kathy Gutchewsky, of Hometown, Ill., departs the Sox-35th CTA Red Line station in Chicago, Ill., on Friday, May 10, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 13, 2013 7:11PM
Kathy Gutchewsky is ready to bypass the Red Line to see her beloved White Sox play.
The Hometown native typically takes the CTA twice a week from her Loop job to meet her two college-aged children and her husband for 27 home games every season.
On Friday, she rushed out the Red Line Sox-35th station for the last time this season.
Beginning May 19, the station will shutter its turnstiles for five months as part of the Red Line South Reconstruction Project. This weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Angels — the last home stand until May 20 — will be fans’ last chance to take a straight shot to the park via the Red Line.
Gutchewsky is one of an average 3,500 fans who took mass transit to any given home game last season —whether it be CTA trains and buses, or Metra, according to the White Sox.
“The Green Line [35th-Bronzeville-IIT station] is just a few blocks down. That’s what my plan is,” Gutchewsky said. “…I would rather the five months of construction than have it closed for two years every weekend.”
Others taking the Red Line to the ballpark Friday said the nearby Metra Rock Island Line train to 35th Street is the answer.
“From my job in the Loop, it takes seven minutes to get here on Metra [from the LaSalle Street station],” Mahir Maali, 28, of Mokena said. “It takes 20 something for the Red Line.”
Other options to get to the game include the No. 35, 24 and 29 CTA buses, the transit agency says.
From the North Side, the CTA says customers should take the Red Line at Roosevelt, which will travel down Green Line tracks to the 35th Street station, about three blocks from the ballpark.
For South Side riders unable to hop on a Red Line, customers can take a free shuttle bus from the 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th Dan Ryan Red Line stations to the 55th Street station and then get off at the Green Line ballpark stop.
The majority of Red Line riders are coming from downtown or the North Side, according to White Sox spokesman Scott Reifert, who says he’s not worried about construction.
“We really don’t think that it will have a huge impact on us,” Reifert said.
The White Sox, in part because of the construction, reduced parking prices at its cash lots to $20, from $25, on weekdays and Saturdays, and $10 on Sundays — to accommodate fans who might drive to the game instead of take the altered train routes.
CTA construction also played a small role in reduced ticket prices this season, Reifert said. But outfield and center field tickets were mainly slashed because of a fan study the organization undertook last season which showed fans were struggling to pay for full-price tickets, he said.
There’s no way to predict whether the White Sox will benefit from an increase in drivers, perhaps in sales at the Baccardi at the Park bar for fans who might stick around to fight off traffic.
But Reifert thinks the Red Line shutdown might show fans a view of Bridgeport they may not have seen.
“I think there’s going to be people getting off [the Green Line] and having the same reaction, of ‘Wow, there’s a police station here, De La Salle, IIT,’” Reifert said. “It’s kind of a neat area.”