The Chicago Bulls have officially moved their practice facility to downtown Chicago, ending a 20 year marriage with the former home of the Berto Center, Deerfield, Illinois.
It has been home many great Bulls and Bulls moments. It has housed the practices of two generations of superstars in Chicago from Micheal Jordan to Derrick Rose. It was the building that Jordan abruptly announced his first retirement in 1993 and has always held a special place in the heart of owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
The move was no surprise as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune hinted that this was an impending move about a month ago. The move is in an effort by the Bulls to bring the team even closer to home than it already is and make i synonymous with Chicago in all aspects of the organization.
“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,” Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. “He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a show of our ongoing commitment to Chicago.”
The main reason for the move however, according to Reinsdorf, is to cut down on the 25 mile commute the Bulls need to make to Deerfield currently. If you’ve ever sat in Chicago traffic, 25 miles isn’t a walk in the park in terms of time.
Moving to downtown Chicago means that the Bulls will be practicing, holding workouts and shootarounds and housing their basketball staff operations in a new facility for the first time since 1992. But the cost of keeping up the facility in addition to the cash needed to keep players in a downtown hotel in order to actually use the facility on gamedays is a major factor behind the decision to move.
“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.”
There is no timetable or location yet set for the move but both Reinsdorf’s say that locations are being scouted. A popular choice is on the east side of the United Center, an area that Jerry Reinsdorf has been looked at as the possible home of a sports entertainment mecca in Chicago.
According to documents obtained by Crain’s, Reinsdorf is looking to build a $75 to $85 million retail development that will include sports bars, restaurants, team stores and possibly the new Bulls practice center.
Not only would the Bulls be moving right next door to their home court, but it would effectively turn the Madhouse on Madison into a year-round sports heaven for Chicago fans.
That’s all big picture thinking at the moment, as none of the development space has been — well, developed yet. But one thing is for certain, the Bulls are leaving Deerfield and int he near future (most likely within the next season) will be holding practices in downtown Chicago.
Expect the name to follow the Bulls to Chicago. Berto Center is named as such in honor of longtime assistant to Jerry Reinsdorf Sheri L. Berto who died in 1991 after a doctor accidentally severed a vein during surgery and failed to properly repair it.
As for the current Berto Center in Deerfield, the Bulls are expected to sell the facility sometime soon.