By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz
3:24 PM CDT, March 30, 2014
When the Sox return to U.S. Cellular Field on Monday for Opening Day, it will also be a homecoming of sorts for the Sox Red Line stop.
The CTA shut the Sox-35th station, the closest rail stop to the stadium, for five months last year as part of a $425 million overhaul of nine South Side Red Line stations and accompanying track. The stop was closed from May 19-Oct. 20, weeks after the Sox finished their 2013 season.
CTA spokesman Stephen Mayberry said it's impossible to tell how many fans will return to the Sox Red Line stop this season. A month after the station reopened, the station saw about 88 percent of its ridership retained compared to November 2012, according to CTA data.
During construction, fans used the 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Green Line station, a few blocks east of the Red Line, and the 35th Street/"Lou" Jones/Bronzeville station on Metra's Rock Island line between the Green and Red lines.
Others drove. Sox spokesman Marty Maloney said the CTA construction did not have a major impact on last season's attendance, which fell 10 percent to 1.7 million fans last year compared to 2012.
"While CTA ridership was down slightly among White Sox fans in 2013, anecdotally we believe part of that dip was that the construction coincided with a decrease in our parking prices," Maloney told RedEye in an email. "Those fans who did ride the 'L' to games seemed to be pleasantly surprised with the close proximity to the ballpark of the Green Line stop."
Parking was decreased a few dollars to $20 last year.
During the Red Line project, the CTA cleaned and painted the Sox station and replaced lights and glass. The agency also installed 33 new security cameras, 72 public announcement speakers, 10 train tracker displays, five customer assistance phones and a new ATM.
The agency also rid the southern Red Line track of slow zones. RedEye tested how long it would take to get to the Sox stop on trains from State and Lake Streets and Garfield Boulevard this Opening Day compared to Opening Day last year.
Minutes were shaved off the Red Line trip compared to the same time last year before the construction project.
The Green Line rail ride from downtown is still faster than the Red Line because there are fewer Green Line stops but slower from Garfield Boulevard because there are more Green Line stops than Red Line ones. It also takes a few minutes longer to walk to the field from the Green Line than the Red Line.
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'L' AND THE CELL
RedEye's Tracy Swartz clocked how long it takes to get to and from U.S. Cellular Field using the Red and Green lines.
Garfield Red to Sox-35th Red via Red Line: 5 minutes, 1 second
Sox-35th Red to Lake Red via Red Line: 12 minutes, 22 seconds
35th-Bronzeville-IIT to Garfield Green via Green Line: 8 minutes, 56 seconds
State/Lake to 35th-Bronzeville-IIT via Green Line: 10 minutes, 15 seconds
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