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Reinsdorf, Emanuel, Burnett and Paxson remarks from groundbreaking ceremony for new practice facility


Renderings courtesy of 360 Architects

The Chicago Bulls held a groundbreaking ceremony for the team’s new practice facility on June 10, 2013. Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Bulls President and COO Michael Reinsdorf were joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. to celebrate the new facility.

Bulls representatives including Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson, General Manager Gar Forman, Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, and Special Advisor to the President and COO Scottie Pippen, as well as local community leaders, were also on hand for the event. The ceremony took place at the location for the new facility in the United Center’s Parking Lot J, which sits just east of the arena on South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets. The new venue, which will be funded completely by the Bulls, is scheduled for completion in time for the 2014-2015 season.

Below is a transcript of remarks made during the ceremony.

Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf

“This is a historic day for us bringing the Chicago Bulls back totally into the city. We’ve been in Deerfield now for close to 30 years, first with the multiplex and then at the Berto Center, which was, by the way, the first practice facility that was exclusively dedicated to an NBA team. So we were the first; since then 29 others have been built. We love Deerfield--the people there have been wonderful to us and it’s been a very, very good relationship out there. The building has worked. But the Mayor came to me and said that he thinks it would be a very good thing if the Chicago Bulls would come home to Chicago, and if we are indeed a Chicago team, we belong in the city of Chicago. So as a result of that we developed some plans--you’ll hear about them as we go forward--we will be back here in a year from now. The Chicago Bulls now will be totally a Chicago team. We’re excited about it; perhaps it will become a bit of a tourist attraction and bring more people out to this area. I want to thank the Mayor for coming up with the idea and we hope that we’re going to build something that everyone is going be very proud of. Again, thank you for coming here today.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“I want to say just a few things. As I just said to Jerry this could be the first basketball thing that’s ever rained out so I want to be really quick about this. First, Saturday’s game for the Blackhawks was a tremendous game and I want the entire Blackhawks family to know everybody is very excited about Wednesday night and the rest of the season is equally a great the series for the city of Chicago. And they showed what great champions they are. It was a great game, it was a great family event. I will say that it was a little exhausting, especially with the last nine seconds, but it was a great game and it ended exactly like it was supposed to. Also, I want to do a shout out, if I can, to the Chicago Steppenwolf theater for their accomplishment at the Tony Awards and making the Tony Awards evening a Chicago evening and for their recognition that this not only a great sports town, but it’s a great theater town, a great cultural event and speaks to what Jerry just said in the sense of the city being champions, all across, on theater, on ice, as well as in our schools. And I want to say, if I can, I want to thank Jerry and the entire Bulls family for putting this training facility here, and bringing not just the Bulls training center, but the Bulls have always been at the heart of the city of Chicago and the city of Chicago has always been behind the Chicago Bulls. And now you are finally, after 20-plus years, finally home here in Chicago as we open the doors next year.

“And this investment here in the training facility is more than just an investment in a training facility. Not far from here, about two blocks away Malcolm X is putting their new campus. Not far from here, we are now putting a totally new train station at the Damen Blue Line. We’re also putting new streetscape in that facility. We also have a new facility we opened just about a month ago with a garden and also new hotel capacity not far from there, and Union Park is going to be totally rehabbed for all the neighborhood. So what started 20 years ago as the United Center and just one investment that was isolated you see a new community college that is totally focused on the healthcare area, a new Crane’s high school also focused on healthcare, a new L stop coming on, a new investment in our park, and it’s this type of investment that happened with the United Center 20 years ago that then spur 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. And this new training facility, after 20 years coming home to the city of Chicago, will have as equal a value in economic opportunity, job creation, and job growth, for the entire West Side of the city of Chicago but something that everybody, whether you live on the West Side or not, can participate in. And so on behalf of a grateful city that’s an example and has been on the receiving end of your investments and your vision, to Jerry Reinsdorf, Michael Reinsdorf, the entire Bulls family, in a city that wants to say thank you and looking forward to not only turning this dirt but next year coming back and cutting the ribbon and opening up the new training facility. Congratulations to everybody.”

Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr.

“First of all, thank you ladies and gentlemen for being here. It gives me great honor and pleasure to be here today. This is very exciting for the people on the Near West Side. First of all I’d like to thank Jerry Reinsdorf and the Bulls organization for all their commitments that have been giving to the Near West Side for many years. Not only have they been bringing many people to the community to patronize the restaurants and the shops in the neighborhood, also affecting the property values in this neighborhood, but they’ve also committed themselves to helping the schools in our neighborhood and many of the community organizations. So they have always been charitable here. As a matter of fact, they support the Boys & Girls Club, they have a Bulls school down the street. They’ve done myriad things in our neighborhood that they don’t tell a lot of people about, they don’t try to advertise, but they do a lot of things and I want you to know that I appreciate everything that you guys do for the neighborhood, so thank you very much.

“Also I would be remiss if I did not thank Rahm Emanuel for making a commitment to the Near West Side, making this one of the pet projects of his tenure here as Mayor of the city of Chicago. We’re trying to move everything West and I think this center is going to help us continue to move the progress and all the development that’s going on in the city of Chicago further West. We’d like to thank him for all of the other public investments that the city is doing in this area to also go along with the private investments that the United Center is doing in this community. So I’m very happy about this. I think this is great. I look forward to seeing some of the Bulls players walking down the street. I don’t know, I may be one of those groupies, Scottie, I’m not sure yet, trying to decide, I may be one by default, because my wife loves the Bulls. So we’ll see what happens but I know my son and other kids from the neighborhood may be standing around just to see who goes in and out of the practice center. I think that’s exciting for all of the young people in the city of Chicago, not only the young people but the old people too. I just want to say thank you all very much and I’m very happy and excited about this. Thank you.”

Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson

“I was actually playing when we opened the Berto Center 21 years ago so I have a wonderful perspective on how important this is. As you know we’re in an unbelievably competitive business where one team each season ends up being crowned champion. And what we’re aspiring to now is we’re making a championship-level investment in our team and in our players by this new practice facility. It’s going to give the entire organization a boost because it’s going to be state of the art. The amenities that we will have available for our players and the resources that they’ll be able to use over the years to train and get better with their bodies and, ultimately on the basketball court, are immeasurable. The offices will be such that will put us in position with our coaching staff and our administration staff to work effectively together. I think maybe most importantly is the fact that since we’ve been up in Deerfield all these years we’ve never been together as an organization--Business Operations and Basketball Operations. This will put us in a position to put our headquarters in one space and it really speaks to what we stand for and that is creating a culture of team building and winning. And this new facility will allow us to do that even better than we have in the past. I think finally this move is good for Chicago. You may know that many of our players currently live in the city even though we practice up North. They’ve fallen in love with the city and the many things they are able to take advantage of: the nightlife, the restaurants, the culture that we have. So, it is the right thing to do. I know that as we’ve gone through this process of looking at plans and ideas that we couldn’t be more excited and our players are as well. Today is just the first step in what we hope will be a wonderful investment in our organization. Thank you very much.”