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Guaranteed Rate Field improvements for 2018

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New food, new locations for retired numbers and new fun to be had at the ballpark this year

Honors on the Move: The retired numbers are gone from behind the plate, replaced by a new wraparound LED ribbon board.

The Chicago White Sox showed off their new for 2018 features at the ballpark today, and I was lucky enough to be in the crowd. New food, a new Craft Kave, a new location for the retired numbers, the updated visitors clubhouse and a virtual reality batting machine were all on display.

The first stop of the tour took us into the visitors clubhouse, which got a facelift for this year. The new look modernized the clubhouse with sleeker carpets, chairs and lockers. The lockers are also equipped with outlets for their devices so the opposing players can study just how much Lucas Giolito’s curve ball dropped off the table in their previous at-bat.

Next, we visited the Guaranteed Rate Club, displaying some new culinary creations that will be available in the ballpark. One of the items that caught my eye was the Cuban Burger, which is available in Sections 113 and 528. Yeah, I sampled it — pretty solid.

There will also be some new Johnsonville Specialty Sausages on the menu in Sections 126 and 535. The three are named The Slurve, The Change Up and The Cutter. The Slurve is a cheddar beer bratwurst topped with caramelized onions and spicy deli mustard. The Change Up, to which I give my stamp of approval, is a Monterrey jack chicken sausage with zesty salsa fresca. The Cutter is a southwestern chorizo served with guacamole and cotija cheese. All three received good reviews from everyone there, but the Change Up is my choice.

Other new food items include the Affy Tapple Caramel Apples and Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Rods (Sections 101, 105, 144, 538), Hand-Scooped Ice Cream served in a fresh homemade waffle cone (Section 157) and the Churro Ice Cream Sandwich — which to me sounds delightful — also in Section 157.

Of course, there are some new food options in the premium seating areas as well. The South Side Horseshoe can be found in the club level or the Huntington Bank Stadium Club restaurant. The Pizole Salad Bowl looked tasty and that can be found in the Stadium Club. The Buffalo Chicken Empanada looked great and is available in the club level and suites.

Other items in the premium seating locations include Hot Chicken Sliders, Knuckle Balls (provolone-stuffed dough balls served with parmesan, garlic butter and pizzaiolo sauce) and a meatball sub.

There is a new location to purchase your craft beer in the upper deck at the Craft Kave Express, located in Section 542. There are nearly 50 beers up there, none of which are Bud Light Lime, so I didn’t spend too much time looking into it.

If you want to take some cuts, there is a new virtual reality batting cage in the Chicago Sports Depot. The cage was also on display at Soxfest, but now fans can enjoy this at the game. Just don’t do any bat flips.

On the field, you will notice that the protective netting now extends all the way down the dugouts. So while you won’t get lined in the head from a hot shot by Jose Abreu, you also won’t be able to get a ball flipped to you from Tyler Saladino, either.

You might notice in that picture that Frank Thomas’s No. 35 is hanging in a different spot. You are correct. They moved the retired numbers to the facade of the club level, where they were originally in 1991. This was done to accommodate a new LED ribbon board that wraps around the park.

The Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room is still under construction, but will be ready to go by Opening Day. You can get there by the stairs near Section 157 for food, beverages and selfie spots.

The most important thing of all, though, was the field, and it looked ready to go. I can’t wait to see the boys take the field on April 5 as I chomp down on my Change Up ... or maybe the Cuban Burger ... too many decisions!

For more coverage of the White Sox’s Guaranteed Rate unveilings today, hop over to Eater Chicago and our guy Ashok Selvam for his read on things, including the White Sox’s new anti-ketchup on hot dogs T-shirt.