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Bulls to build practice arena east of United Center: source

View east end United Center parking lot where Bulls plan major expansiWednesday June 13 2012. | John H. White~Sun-Times

View of the east end of the United Center and parking lot where the Bulls plan a major expansion, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 14, 2012 3:09PM

The Chicago Bulls plan to build a practice facility on a parking lot east of the United Center, a source close to the team said Friday.

The source said a structure of about 55,000 square feet would be slated for parking Lot J, which is east of the stadium’s VIP lot. The Bulls have announced they want to relocate their practice facility from Deerfield to Chicago, but they had left open the location.

The proposal for Lot J is to be officially announced next week, the source said. The property is on the east side of Wood Street between Madison and Monroe and is owned by a partnership that includes Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz.

Bulls representative Susan Goodenow had no comment.

It is not known if the Bulls plan to offer public access to the practice facility. The team’s practices in Deerfield are closed.

Also not known is the team’s stance on building a facility that can do double duty as the home arena for DePaul University’s basketball team. The university wants a place somewhere in the city for the Blue Demons.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that he favors a Bulls-DePaul facility.

DePaul has looked at other sites, with one possibility being near McCormick Place. The men’s basketball team currently plays its home games in Rosemont, and the school feels a location closer to its Lincoln Park campus would be more convenient for students and a better recruiting tool.

The United Center’s VIP lot is slated as the site of an entertainment and retail complex Reinsdorf has long coveted. But the Bulls boss wants an extension of a General Assembly-approved property tax break for the United Center sites that is due to expire in 2016.

Emanuel has not ruled out an extension, but has said that negotiations would involve “a different set of terms” to protect taxpayers. The current terms limit property taxes on the United Center to $1 million a year.

Crain’s Chicago Business first reported the Lot J location for the practice facility online Friday.

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