Emanuel, Deerfield react to Bulls' plan to move practice center to Chicago
The Chicago Bulls announced on Wednesday plans to move its practice facility to downtown Chicago from its current location in Deerfield, Ill.
The Bulls have practiced at the Sheri L. Berto Center since 1992.
In a statement, the team listed a few reasons prompting the move. Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel played a role in courting the team to move its facility.
"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 in the statement. "He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a show of our ongoing commitment to Chicago."
According to the statement, the team also says a new facility in the city will decrease the commute time for players on game days, and Reinsdorf said the move will give the team a chance to expand its operations.
"The time is right for a move from both a basketball and a business standpoint," Reinsdorf said in the statement. "Our basketball operations group has been incredibly resourceful, but there is no longer space available to grow where we are now."
The team said it's looking to expand its use of a practice facility. The team is considering ideas that include "event and educational space, and greater digital and video production capabilities."
Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street said the village recognizes the business realities of what the team is trying to do but said the village will miss having the team around.
"They did have many visitors from not only team operations, players visiting and doing camps, but also reporters," Street said. "And folks, when they come to town, they need to stay in our hotel rooms, eat in our restaurants, and all those things benefit the village and the community."
Street said in light of the changing lifestyle of Bulls players, the village understands the Bulls desire to consolidate operations.
He said he looks forward to working with them on possible future uses of the Berto Center. The team said it intends to sell the practice facility.
Emanuel was asked if courting part of the team's business away from the suburbs would create any tension at the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, a caucus made up of mayors from Chicago and its surrounding municipalities. Emanuel said he did not expect tension.
"There would be no metropolitan caucus without the city of Chicago," Emanuel said. "Chicago is the heart and lifeblood of not only the metropolitan's economy, [but also] the state's economy."
Emanuel said Wednesday that he didn’t have to make any promises to the Bulls to finalize the move.
“There have been no sweetheart deals,” the mayor said.
Emanuel said the city won't give the Bulls economic development dollars from what are called Tax Increment Financing districts.
The mayor also said there was no discussion on whether he'd help the Bulls win an extension of a lucrative, long-running tax break. Though, when pressed by reporters, Emanuel said the team shouldn't expect the same kind of deal it got last time around.
“Nobody gets the same thing that they got 20 years ago,” he said.
A statement from the Bulls said the new practice facility will be privately funded.