MAC football game at Guaranteed Rate a success

MAC football game at Guaranteed Rate a success

CHICAGO -- Illinois Sports Facility Authority and the White Sox scored a touchdown with Wednesday night's MACtion football between Northern Illinois and Toledo at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It was the first event at the White Sox ballpark since the naming rights officially changed and the first football contest held there.

"I was on the field before the game like when the players got there," said White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing Brooks Boyer, who attended the 31-24 victory for Toledo. "I was out there with the ISFA guys and a couple from Guaranteed Rate.

"Players got off the bus, they were walking on the field and they all had their camera phones, just videoing, taking pictures on the field. The field and the ballpark looked amazing. The field was immaculate."

ISFA actually ran this event, working in conjunction with the White Sox. Roger Bossard, the team's head groundskeeper also known as the Sodfather, had the challenge of changing his perfectly groomed field from baseball to football.

"Nothing bothers Roger," said Boyer with a laugh. "He had an amazing attitude about it. Everybody knows the field is his baby and you don't mess with the field. He and his team just had a great attitude about it, and I'm sure he won't tell you this. He'll tell you he never wants to do it again.

"But I know there's a sense of pride from him that, 'Hey, look what we can do. We can make this kind of stuff happen.' And they did. The field looked awesome. It was hard to tell where the infield stopped and the outfield started. That's how good of a job they did."

Boyer also had praise for Jason Benetti, who completed his first season as part of the White Sox broadcast team and handled play-by-play duties for ESPN on Wednesday. The broadcast touched on the history of the ballpark and showed a number of different things, including the food at Guaranteed Rate Field.

"So for us and for ISFA, more so for ISFA, remember this isn't a White Sox event, it's an ISFA event," Boyer said. "So our Sports Authority came off looking really, really good. We had a Nov. 9 game and the temperature was in the 50s. It was a beautiful night.

"I'd take what we had last night for April. It was nice weather, and like I said, the ballpark just looked great."

About the only aspect that missed a little wide right was the crowd. But a NIU home game for a now 3-7 team on a Wednesday night probably didn't help matters.

"The crowd certainly wasn't what NIU had hoped, but their season hasn't been what Northern had hoped for either," Boyer said. "You wish the crowd could have been a little bit bigger, but I think the players and coaches, from what I read and from what their athletic director, Sean Frazier, said, they were really happy with how it all went."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.