Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says it was important for the Bulls to bring their training facility back to "Sweet Home Chicago," and says there's been no discussions, yet, on a tax incentive deal for the team.
The Chicago Bulls are on the move.
The team announced Wednesday plans to move from its current practice facility at the Sheri L. Berto Center in Deerfield to a to-be-named downtown location. The decision comes after recent conversations between Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, according to a team 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," Reinsdorf said. "He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a show of our ongoing commitment to Chicago."
Emanuel on Wednesday told reporters there are "no sweetheart deals" on tax breaks but wouldn't discuss any tax breaks the state has given the team in the past. He called the move "coming home to Sweet Home Chicago."
There is no official timetable set for the move, but Reinsdorf said the Bulls are exploring site locations.
The Bulls have called the Berto Center home since 1992 for practices, shoot-arounds, summer workouts, and coaching and basketball staff operations.
The team points out the move's biggest advantage is cutting down on the commute time for players and coaching staff on game days. Deerfield sits 25 miles north of the United Center, and in Chicago traffic, it seems a lot longer. The team currently allows players to stay at a downtown hotel on game days to beat traffic and shorten their commute, but a downtown facility all but eliminates that expense.
The village of Deerfield will miss the Bulls, though.
"We've enjoyed the Bulls; they've been terrific corporate resident for us," Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street said. "It's unfortunate our local restaurants and hotels will lose the spill-over business."
“We have been happy at the Berto for many years,” said Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. “However, for us, the time is right for a move from both a basketball and a business standpoint.”
The project will be funded privately. As for their current Deerfield location, the team has plans to sell the facility, which Deerfield's manager thinks will be put to good use.
"We believe there will be a terrific re-use of that site," Street said.