CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Bulls released the first rendering of its new practice facility, which will be built adjacent to the United Center.
The team reached an agreement in June with the city to move their training center from their long-time home in north suburban Deerfield to Chicago.
“Today’s announcement is the latest example of our longstanding commitment to the City of Chicago and to our fans,” Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “Investing in a modern facility for our players and coaches will help us to achieve our team’s number one goal – winning championships – while also playing an important role in the city’s ongoing redevelopment efforts in our West Side neighborhood.”
The location planned for the new facility is Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets. Plans for the new facility remain in development and the project, which will be funded completely by the Bulls, is scheduled for completion in time for the 2014-2015 season.
The facility is anticipated to be approximately 55,000-square-feet in size. The firm, 360 Architects, has been selected as the lead project architect, and McHugh Construction has been named the General Contractor. The Bulls said they are committed to providing opportunities for Chicago-based companies, including women/minorities owned businesses, to be selected as part of the construction project.
But that’s just part of a larger overall plan for the site. The city would also like a new CTA ‘L’ stop on the Pink Line, which runs about a block east of the stadium, right next to the parking lot targeted for the new practice facility.
“I am pleased that the Bulls are moving their practice facilities into the City of Chicago and continuing the great work revitalizing the entire neighborhood around the United Center,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “The Bulls are an iconic championship team and a source of pride for our city. Their future, and the future of the West Side, is bright.”
In June, the Bulls said the practice facility could be part of a “large restaurant- and retail-based complex on the east end of the United Center.”
Mayor Emanuel pitched the idea of moving the practice facility to Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
The mayor said he told Reinsdorf and the Bulls that he didn’t understand why their practice facility was in Deerfield, and not the city.
“You’re a Chicago-based basketball team. What are you doing practicing off-season in Deerfield?” Emanuel said in June. “Let the people in Deerfield come down to Chicago, spend some money and see the team, if you want to see them practice in the off-season.”
The mayor sent Reinsdorf a letter in April, urging him to move the team’s practice site to Chicago, near the United Center.
“I encourage you to take a leadership role in investing in the West Side by bringing the Chicago Bulls training facility to the United Center,” Emanuel wrote Reinsdorf.
It turned out Reinsdorf thought it was a great idea.
The Bulls said they have been happy at the Berto Center for many years, but the facility has space limitations that no longer allow the team to grow.
The Bulls also point out that many of the players endure a long daily commute to the Berto Center, which is located at Lake Cook and Waukegan roads in Deerfield.
The Berto Center opened in September 1992. It honors Sheri L. Berto, a longtime assistant to Reinsdorf who died in outpatient surgery the year before.
The team plans to sell the facility.