(MCT) — It's official.
The Chicago Bulls announced overnight Wednesday that they are moving their practice facility from suburban Deerfield to downtown Chicago.
The Tribune exclusively reported the potential move last month.
In a release, the team said the new facility, which has no timetable and will be privately funded, "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."
Team and real estate sources indicated the team has considered creating a restaurant- and entertainment-based complex on the East end of the United Center, modeled on the successful "L.A. Live" outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
In the release, chief operating officer and President Michael Reinsdorf explained the decision to leave the Sheri L. Berto Center, which opened in September 1992. He credited Mayor Rahm Emanuel for pitching team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
"Mayor Emanuel has done a tremendous job promoting investment in the City of Chicago," Jerry Reinsdorf said in the 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."
Reinsdorf also cited the potential benefit of eliminating players' commute on game days from Deerfield, which the Tribune reported last month. Players often fight traffic after participating in the morning shootaround at the Berto Center and taking naps in their north suburban homes.
The move also will unite the basketball operation and marketing staffs. Currently, the marketing staff works at the United Center and basketball operations runs out of the Berto Center.
"Our basketball operations group has been incredibly resourceful, but there is no longer space available to grow where we are now," Michael Reinsdorf said in the statement. "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."
Reinsdorf confirmed the Bulls will sell their current facility, which the Tribune reported last month. Sources indicated the new facility could keep the same name, which honors Jerry Reinsdorf's longtime assistant who passed away following routine surgery on Nov. 23, 1991.
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