Chicago Bulls officials today announced a commitment to move their suburban practice facility to downtown Chicago. The team has practiced at the Sheri L. Berto Center in Deerfield since 1992.
During recent conversations, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pitched Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf on the idea to relocate the team's practice facility to a downtown Chicago location.
"Mayor Emanuel has done a tremendous job promoting investment in the city of Chicago," Reinsdorf said in a statement. "The mayor stressed that the Bulls brand is important to the city, nationally and internationally, and that the Bulls represent the spirit and competitive grit of Chicago. He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a show of our ongoing commitment to Chicago. We have been contemplating how to address the growth limitations of our practice facility for awhile, so the mayor's timing and ours seems to make sense."
The team is in the process of exploring a variety of site locations throughout the city. A specific timetable has not yet been established for the project, which will be privately funded.
"We have been happy at the Berto for many years," Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf said. "However, for us, the time is right for a move from both a basketball and a business standpoint. Our basketball operations group has been incredibly resourceful, but there is no longer space available to grow where we are now. And, strategically, we are taking a more integrated approach to our business, and decreasing the physical distance between our two main facilities will naturally create more opportunities for collaboration among all departments."
The team's current facility, the Berto Center, has hosted the majority of team practices, gameday shootarounds and summer workouts for the last 20 years. The building is also the home of the Bulls' coaching and basketball operations staff offices.
A new facility could include additional features that would allow the team to expand its use of the building, particularly during non-practice times. Some ideas under consideration include event and educational space, and greater digital and video production capabilities.
Another potential benefit of a practice facility located downtown would be reduced commute time for the players on game days. The Berto Center is located about 25 miles north of the United Center, and currently on game days the players have to commute from the Berto to the United Center following mandatory shootarounds.
The team intends to sell its current practice facility.