Message from the Chair
I am pleased to present the 2021 Annual Report for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA). As the Chair of the Board of ISFA, I am thrilled to serve the people of the State of Illinois as we continue our focus of maintaining Guaranteed Rate Field as the home of the Chicago White Sox and as a premiere multi-use facility.
Along with fellow board members, Rosemarie Andolino, Norm Bobins, Michael Forde, Trisha Rooney, Coco Soodek, Tarrah Cooper Wright, and the committed staff, we work to ensure that ISFA maintains fiscal integrity while doing all we can to promote economic development in and around the ballpark. I extend my sincere thanks to our board members and staff for their combined dedication to this mission.
Created by the General Assembly in 1987 for the purposes of constructing and renovating stadiums for professional sports teams in Illinois, most notably the construction of a new Comiskey Park, now named Guaranteed Rate Field. Our duties were expanded by the General Assembly in 2001 to include bonding authority and associated responsibilities to finance the renovation of Soldier Field and the surrounding parkland. We are very proud of the fact that we have a 30-year track record of meeting our fiscal obligations and helping to support two outstanding sports and entertainment facilities.
Our responsibilities at Guaranteed Rate Field include required stadium improvements and repairs. Since 2020, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, ISFA continued to deliver on our promise of on time, on budget projects. The 2020 Major League Baseball season was limited to 60 regular season games with no fans allowed in the ballpark. This past year, the White Sox played a full 162-game season with 81 home games. The first 22 games were played at 20% capacity, the next 17 games were played at 60% capacity and the remaining 42 games were played at full capacity with sold-out crowds for the playoffs. We are optimistic about operating at full capacity for the upcoming season.
Completed projects that were undertaken and completed include sod replacement in the outfield and infield, LED field and stadium lighting upgrades, elevator upgrades, video surveillance updates, security perimeter work, scoreboard control room upgrades, safety netting extensions, upgrades in the trainer locker room, HVAC upgrades, plumbing work, waterproofing repairs, and updated signage.
ISFA is proud of its commitment to partner with community, civic, and nonprofit organizations to play a small role to achieve their goals and mission. As a public entity, we believe we have a responsibility to use our ballpark and surrounding landscape to benefit the residents of the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago. Year after year, ISFA continues to play a role in the fundraising efforts of many nonprofit organizations through our ticket donations. ISFA also continues to provide ticket donations to groups, some of which allow children from around Illinois to see their first Major League Baseball game.
This past year we continued the tradition of hosting the 21st Annual Chicago Police Department vs. Chicago Fire Department Charity Baseball game with a tremendous turnout. We were also proud to host to the 11th Annual Les Turner ALS 5k Run/Walk.
As we do every year, we continue to aggressively market to promoters in an effort to maximize non-baseball related revenues and remain dedicated to our fiscal responsibilities. While we adapted to our changing circumstances due to the pandemic, in 2021 we were able to host the BMW Ride and Drive event and our parking lots have been rented by movie and tv show production companies.
We thank the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Park District, and all our partners for their continued support.
Leslie M. Darling