It was rumored as early as last year that the Chicago Bulls were looking to move their practice facility in Deerfield, IL to a location closer to the United Center. Both the Chicago Tribune and we here at Pippen Ain’t Easy reported back in June that the new facility would be located in downtown Chicago next to the United Center, and today that plan was officially announced.
“Today’s announcement is the latest example of our longstanding commitment to the City of Chicago and to our fans,” Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “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.”
The Bulls have a lot of history in the area surrounding Madison Street, but a lot of that is tied to the hard work that was put in over the last 20 years down in Deerfield at the Berto Center. Since 1992, the Bulls and all the legends that have worn the hometown colors have practiced in Deerfield; Micheal Jordan, Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman all the way up to the more modern Bulls like Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah. Even more forgettable Bulls that have gone on to have NBA names that have some weight, like Elton Brand, Ron Artest and Tyson Chandler have all, at one time, honed their skills at the Berto. The Berto Center was home to big moments in the Bulls lexicon, like the infamous “I’m Back” press conference from Micheal Jordan as well as his retirement announcements.
But the Bulls are moving into a new era, and their practice facility is following them. The new facility will be located adjacent to the United Center in Chicago’s West Side, in an effort to expand the luxurious real estate of downtown. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf said that Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel is to thank for the move downtown.
“He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to Chicago,” Reinsdorf said. “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 Bulls will remain in the Berto Center while the new practice facility is being built, which will likely keep the name Berto as it’s named after former Bulls assistant executive Sheri L. Berto, who died in 1991 after a botched surgery. The new facility is expected to open for the 2014-15 NBA season.