Bulls: Practice center moving to Near West Side

Berto Center to replace a United Center parking lot; Entertainment complex on hold

11/16/2012 10:05 AM

By Ben Meyerson

4 Comments - Add Your Comment

The Bulls' new practice facility, to be built on Wood Street south of Madison, will replace one of the United Center's many parking lots.
Courtesy 360 Architects
Click here to see a larger version of this photo.

The Bulls' new practice facility will sit on what's now the United Center's lot J. A retail and entertainment complex is slated for lot H, and Malcolm X College is getting a new building south of the arena in what's now lot MX.
Courtesy United Center

The Bulls are doubling down on the Near West Side, moving their practice facility and team offices from Deerfield to one of the United Center’s many parking lots, the team formally announced Friday morning.

The move, rumored since this summer, marks another firm move towards transforming the United Center from an isolated island in the middle of the neighborhood into a vital piece of the community fabric.

The team’s new practice facility will be located on what’s now known as parking lot J, which sits south of Madison Street between Wood Street and the Pink Line tracks.

In June, when the team announced it would move from Deerfield’s Berto Center, Chicago Journal reported that lot J was a likely candidate for the new building.

According to a press release sent out Friday morning by the Bulls and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the 55,000 square-foot facility is expected to open in time for the 2014-2015 season. The team has already picked an architect and a construction company, and released a rendering of the new building Friday.

Moving the practice facility next to the United Center will allow the Bulls’ basketball operation and marketing staffs to work from the same area. Currently, the basketball operations group works out of the Berto Center in Deerfield while the marketing department works out of the United Center itself.

In the release, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf cited their desire to improve the neighborhood around the United Center in their decision.

“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,” Reinsdorf said.

He also credited Emanuel with the original idea.

“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,” Reinsdorf said. “He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to Chicago. We had been contemplating how to address the growing demands on our current practice facility for awhile, so the Mayor’s timing and ours made sense.”

The practice center’s relocation is one of several moves that could transform the area around the United Center. In February, Emanuel announced that Malcolm X College would get a new campus across Jackson Boulevard from its current building, replacing a parking lot often used for United Center events. Malcolm X’s old building is slated to become the new home for ChiArts High School.

But one key project is still up in the air: A proposed entertainment, retail and restaurant complex, pitched in May by Reinsdorf and Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz. Measuring in at about 262,522 square feet, it would sit directly between the United Center and the Bulls’ new practice facility.

A spokesman for the two owners said Friday morning that the project was still on hold. Sources told the Chicago Tribune that Reinsdorf and Wirtz are holding out in hopes of getting tax incentives for the arena extended.

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By mofDomoptiply
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By West loop realist from West Loop
Posted: 11/25/2012 12:32 PM

Rest assured Rahm will be taking care of Reinsdorf nicely with an estimated $95 million of tax breaks to Reinsdorf a multi-millionaire friend of Emanuel's. It seems all that this city has is money for sprecial interest and fellow buddies of this hypocritical, dictator mayor.

By Sam from Far West Side
Posted: 11/22/2012 10:34 AM

This plan should includes a RTA train stop on Madiosn. And if those "bs" protesters, who caused the Pete's Fresh Market delay in construction, shows up. Lock them up in jail. That bs ghetto methods days are over. They, like everyone else, need to know the area is changing, period.

By claudeah from united center
Posted: 11/19/2012 11:37 AM

Things are looking brighter. I just hope the 'protesters' that have been bothering Pete's don't show up. I have a feeling if they did the folks at the UC would have a way to deal with them. And my hunch is that the protestors would not be very happy, because I don't see the UC putting up with them.