Chicago Bulls development team may play at Sears Centre next year

A Chicago Bulls-affiliated NBA Development League team may be making Hoffman Estates' Sears Centre Arena its home court for its inaugural season about a year from now.

Hoffman Estates village board members will be discussing such a deal at a special finance committee meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2.

Though the initial agreement would be for five years, it also contains a provision for three renewals of the same length for a total of 20 years.

The Chicago Bulls released a statement on the new D-League team Friday afternoon.

"The Chicago Bulls are seeking to establish an expansion NBA Development League (NBADL) franchise that would begin play at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates for the 2016-17 season," the statement reads. "The concept of operating a NBADL franchise in the Chicago area is very exciting and represents an investment by the Bulls in the growth of the game of basketball and our brand."

Earlier this week, the Charlotte Hornets became the 11th NBA team to fully own and operate its D-League affiliate, expanding the D-League to 20 teams overall.

The proposed Bulls-affiliated team is expected to play a total of 24 home games during seasons beginning in mid-November and stretching through early April each year.

Though several minor league teams in a variety of sports have come and gone from the Sears Centre in its nine years of operation, Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said the Chicago Bulls affiliation will make all the difference with this new franchise.

"The Bulls are one of the best-run organizations in all of sports," McLeod said.

The high-profile nature of this team and the expected duration of the contract more than make up for the disappointment felt when the Sears Centre failed in its bid for a contract to host the Illinois High School Association boy's basketball state championship tournament earlier this year, McLeod said.

Sears Centre General Manager Ben Gibbs added his own praise to the Bulls' new endeavor and the team's interest in the Hoffman Estates arena.

"They're a world-class organization when it comes to running sports teams," Gibbs said. "We're as excited as anyone to see what the potential is for a sports team like this."

After a discussion and recommendation from the finance committee Monday, the village board will vote the following Monday, Nov. 9, on whether to authorize the Sears Centre management firm Global Spectrum to enter into such a contract, McLeod said.

In the rest of its written statement Friday, the Bulls organization said: "Playing in the NBA's official minor league, a Bulls NBADL team will create tremendous opportunities to promote the game of basketball in our surrounding communities, extend the reach of the Bulls and deepen our integration with the community, and establish a developmental program that will benefit our younger players in an atmosphere consistent with our NBA program.

"There are so many great Chicago Bulls fans in the area, and we look forward to engaging in new ways with families and businesses in the Northwest suburbs," the statement continues. "We appreciate the thoughtful consideration the village of Hoffman Estates will be giving the request before them.

"Out of respect for the village of Hoffman Estates, we will not have any further comment about our pursuit of a NBADL franchise until the process has reached a conclusion," the statement says.

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