Bulls' development team gets OK to play at Sears Centre

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Members of the Hoffman Estates administration -- including Mayor Bill McLeod (center, with basketball) -- pose for pictures next to a Bulls jersey after voting for a plan to make the Sears Centre Arena the home of the Chicago Bulls' new D-League team.

    Members of the Hoffman Estates administration -- including Mayor Bill McLeod (center, with basketball) -- pose for pictures next to a Bulls jersey after voting for a plan to make the Sears Centre Arena the home of the Chicago Bulls' new D-League team. Doug T. Graham | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/10/2015 5:14 AM

The Chicago Bulls' plan to make Hoffman Estates' Sears Centre Arena the home court of their new NBA Development League team was approved by the village board Monday night. Team officials say their lease agreement could be finalized as soon as next week.

"The Chicago Bulls are excited to bring an expansion NBA Development League franchise to Hoffman Estates and the Northwest Suburbs, and tonight's vote was an important step in that process," said Bulls President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Reinsdorf in a statement Monday night. "We thank the leaders of the Village of Hoffman Estates for their support and look forward to working together to establish a Bulls D-League team in its new home, the Sears Centre Arena."

 

The board put their full support behind the plan, approving it was a unanimous vote and then taking time out of their meeting to pose for photos with a custom made Bulls jersey that team officials presented Monday night.

"It's been a great pleasure working with the Chicago Bulls organization over the last quite a few months," Mayor Bill McLeod said during the meeting. "I think it will be a good fit for both the Chicago Bulls and the village of Hoffman Estates and the Sears Centre arena."

Ram Padmanabhan, Vice President of Financial and General Counsel for the Bulls, said after the meeting that now that the village has authorized the two sides to enter in the lease it could be finished in the next week.

Ben Gibbs, the General Manager of the Sears Centre, said the arena's location will be convenient for the team's suburban fans.

"There's a lot of Bulls fans out here that either don't have time to go downtown or don't have the financial wherewithal so this will be a great option," Gibbs said. "We know there's an underserved market here, we see it at all the family shows, we always a good turnout so we assume that if you're a basketball fan at any level that you'd want to check out what this team's doing.""We think the product will be great, it's family-friendly, its affordable, it's a great brand name and when you put those three things together its hard to miss," Gibbs added.

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Padmanabhan said the Bulls could send younger players who don't see a lot of playing time to their new D-League team to give them more experience during the season. He said that the team could also send a rehabbing player there to get back into game form.

Under the proposed lease agreement, the D-League team's front office also would be housed at the Sears Centre, which Gibbs said would be beneficial to both sides."We've had tenants that have been successful that have been off-site, but when they asked to be on site we saw that as a huge sign that this was going to go well," Gibbs said. "It means we can help, you know, you walk right upstairs and that's where we are."

Last week, Reinsdorf said the Bulls will organize a team-naming contest soon.On Friday, the Brooklyn Nets became the 12th NBA team to fully own and operate its D-League affiliate, expanding the D-League to 21 teams overall. In October, the Charlotte Hornets announced they would create their own D-League team as well.

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.

The Bulls-affiliate would play 24 home games a season at the Sears Centre, from mid-November to early April. The pending lease is for five years with the possibility of renewals for up to 15 more years.

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