CASE STUDY: Restroom Renovation Scores Big at Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field
Like many baseball parks and athletic stadiums across the country, U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the White Sox ball club, is often faced with modernization. The challenge is to accomplish these renovations and upgrades without impacting the character and historical legacy of the ball club, while keeping fans comfortable and happy. U.S. Cellular Field has gone through multiple phases of upgrades over the past decade, with very favorable results, most recently of its seating, eateries and restrooms.
Over the years, the White Sox have posted solid seasonal records, even winning the 2005 World Series against Houston. Dating back to 1900, the White Sox have a rich baseball history filled with lore and character. Even in the modernized stadium, there are signs of past glory days. For example, in the parking lot where the old stadium stood, the home plate where Babe Ruth hit a game-winning home run in the American vs. National League All Star Game is commemorated. And, mementos can be seen of the White Sox first World Series win in 1917.
In 1991, U.S. Cellular Field, formerly Comiskey Park, moved from the North side of 35th street to the Southside. The stadium has devoted the past 11 years to stadium renovations to appeal to their fans and attract new ones, by upgrading many areas of the stadium. The White Sox extensive renovation program began with two-tiered terrace seating added next to the Bullpen Sports Bar and most recently the addition of an outdoor Beer Garden, multi-tiered ChiSox Bar and Grill, new metro station and 16,500 square foot, three-level Fundamentals Deck housing numerous kids’ events and developmental baseball activities.
Another integral element was the remodeling of all the stadium’s restrooms. In early 2011, the restrooms behind home plate were renovated by Prestige Distribution Inc., out of Northbrook, IL with the program continuing into 2013, as funding allowed. The final phase of the total restroom renovation was completed in December 2013.
“There is enormous traffic in our bathrooms day in and day out throughout the season,” says Don Esposito, Senior Director of Purchasing, Construction and Maintenance for the Chicago White Sox and their US Cellular home field. “This includes meeting the needs of up to 2.5 million attendees annually, who have been known to express either joy or frustration in various ways.” As a result, Esposito’s specification process is far more intensive than most. “We required materials that fit the modern, clean and upscale design of our stadium, while holding up to rowdy fans within a cost frame that fits our budget.”
According to Esposito, the new materials included the specification of Hiny Hiders® bathroom partitions from Scranton Products due to their looks, durability and ability to reduce costs and maintenance. After consulting with David Waxman and Adi Klinghofer of Prestige Distribution, he selected Black with a Hammered texture for the ballpark’s 320 stalls. Prestige was involved in all phases of the bathroom renovations from 2011- 2013, assisting Esposito with the specification process and performing all of the demolition of the old partitions and installation of the new ones. “Bathrooms at U.S. Cellular Field have exposed, heavy-duty steel beams, which offered fantastic support for the ceiling hung partitions,” said Klinghofer. “Because of the high level of traffic in the bathrooms, we recommended that the White Sox consider continuous brackets and hinges which offer added rigidity to the toilet partition system.”
Esposito said the sleek black color was right in line with team’s colors of black, white and silver. The facility’s cleaning staff was immediately impressed with their resistance to graffiti and the ease in which they clean. Esposito, a Chicago original, with a twinkle in his eye and a hearty laugh, knows the tough demands of keeping a baseball park running by finding new building materials and overseeing repairs, cleaning and maintenance. He chuckled over the name Hiny Hiders, but commented that they do far more than the name implies. “They really class up the place and add value, whereas the old burgundy partitions made of a phenolic material were downright ugly,” he said.
A leading provider of unique and attractive interior partitions over the past 25 years, Scranton Products offers an assortment of HDPE products in variety of colors and textures. In addition, the company’s Hiny Hiders partitions are designed to never need painting. Unlike metal partitions which are subject to rust, they offer superior resistance to dents, scratches, graffiti, corrosion, mildew and moisture. Another benefit is that they are very easy to clean and naturally resistant to bacteria and carry a 25-year warranty.
“Our maintenance routine involves power washing the restrooms between each game,” said Esposito. “With Hiny Hiders, the process now takes far less time and labor for our cleaning staff, which needs to react quickly and efficiently when we host a doubleheader or more than one event in a single day.” Because of the ceiling hung design with continuous hinges, nothing touches the floor for even easier cleaning. Esposito said the cost savings has allowed more investment in quality materials and upgrades for the stadium.
Since Esposito is always looking for ways for the stadium to be sensitive to the environment, he was also impressed that the partitions are GREENGUARD Gold certified, which has strict guidelines for air quality. In addition they contain recycled materials and are 100% recyclable at the end of their very long lifecycle.
“A big part of my job is to look for problems and get repairs done,” said Esposito. “The old partitions were prone to scratches, gouges, and malfunctioning hardware. We couldn’t be happier with the Hiny Hiders, which look great and so far have proven to be reliable, dependable and durable game after game.”
Esposito said the new partitions and restroom overhaul at the stadium has been a winning experience all around, with excellent support from Scranton Products. “These partitions have provided outstanding looks, strong and durable hardware, and easy cleaning and maintenance,” he said. “They have gotten rave reviews from fans, staff and the ball club. I would highly recommend them to any maintenance manager looking to upgrade their facilities.”