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Bulls, city break ground on new training facility

Updated: June 11, 2013 7:57AM

After some 20 years practicing at the Berto Center in Deerfield, the Bulls broke ground Monday for a new practice facility that will be built east of the United Center, just across South Wood Street.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. were in attendance for the ceremony, which took place in Lot J, site of the new facility. The facility will be approximately 60,000 square feet and is scheduled to be completed for the 2014-2015 season.

While moving the team from the north suburbs to the city wasn’t chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s first choice, the idea of consolidating the team’s employees in one building is a primary benefit.

“It wasn’t our first choice,” Reinsdorf said. “My first choice was to build a bigger building in the Deerfield area. But the mayor said this was important to him. We want to be good citizens, so we went ahead and did it. But now it’s growing on me.

“The real positive is going to be not having to fight the traffic before games. If we’re up having a shootaround or something in Deerfield, they have to get the heck out of there because you know what happens to the inbound Edens. So we’re going to eliminate that.”

Once the facility is complete, the Bulls will have their business and basketball operations in the same building.

The Bulls’ staff has grown significantly in the last 20 years, necessitating a move from the Berto Center.

Emanuel heralded the groundbreaking as a milestone in the gentrification of the Near West Side.

“It’s this type of investment that happened with the United Center 20 years ago that then spurred a series of public and private investments that have turned the Near West Side into an economic opportunity for the entire city — commercially and residentially — and that would not have happened if it wasn’t for the vision that Jerry Reinsdorf and the entire Bulls family had,” Emanuel said. “And this new training facility will have as equal of value in economic opportunity, job creation and job growth for the entire West Side of the city of Chicago.”

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