DELAWARE NORTH COMPANIES has developed and begun operating a new retail store, the Chicago Sports Depot, adjacent to U.S. Cellular Field for the Chicago White Sox. (The company's Sportservice division operates retail services and food concessions for the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.)
The store, said to be one of the largest of its kind at any professional sports stadium, is designed to be a one-stop shopping destination for fans of Chicago's professional and regional college teams, including the White Sox, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks and Cubs as well as the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the University of Notre Dame and several other colleges.
“The goal is to be the best sports merchandise and apparel store in the country,” says Joe Nigro, the store's general manager. “As soon as they walk in the door, we want them to be wowed and to carry that feeling of awe throughout the store.”
Construction began last April and the two-level store celebrated its grand opening on November 20.
The merchandise includes such brands as Nike, New Era, Majestic, Reebok and Banner 47 and includes niche items like tie racks, shoe trees, leather briefcases and shaving bags as well as memorabilia autographed by Chicago sport stars.
There is also a home, garden and automotive section and fans can purchase unique items such as White Sox logo yoga mats and White Sox blankets featuring Mickey Mouse. In addition, the store features a custom screen printing and jersey area.
Twenty points of sale make it easy for fans to find exclusive products and still check out quickly.
The signature element of the Depot is a digital staircase featuring 15,000 LED lights that can play sports-related video images as customers move to and from the second level. It is believed to be the only one of its kind in North America.
To ensure fans do not miss a single play of any game, the Sports Depot features 75 video monitors, including four video walls. The store's flow was carefully considered to give guests a fluid shopping experience from one section to the next. Glass hand railings and a glass elevator allow guests to see the monitors from every vantage point in the store.
The store entry at 35th Street features atrium space that soars to 40 feet in height. The first floor ceilings are 20 feet tall. A 14-foot ceiling on the upper floor with exposed structure allows for the maximum visual height. The store is accessible from either the outside or inside the stadium on game days.