SBD/April 25, 2013/Facilities

Bulls Unveil $25M Practice Facility; No Progress With Entertainment Complex Tax Breaks

Bulls officials are hoping for an extended tax break to help construct the practice facility
The Bulls yesterday in a presentation before Chicago's Plan Commission "showcased their $25 million plan to build a new practice facility on a United Center parking lot, but reported no progress on their quest for an extended property tax break needed to build a $95 million entertainment complex," according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The 60,000-square-foot facility that will replace the Berto Center after next season was "designed by 360 Architects" and "includes a 'saw-toothed' façade with opaque glass at the pedestrian level 'for security' that become transparent at higher levels." The plan also "calls for new parkway trees and landscaping along Madison and Wood that should enhance the experience for fans" going to Bulls and Blackhawks games at the United Center. The Bulls are "building the new practice center without a subsidy." But their plan to build the complex is "contingent on nailing down a modified version of the property tax formula that has saved the Bulls and Hawks millions on property tax bills assessed against the United Center." The tax break is "due to expire in 2016." Bulls President & COO Michael Reinsdorf said, "This is step one." He was "arguing that the request is 'more about an extension of a tax formula -- not necessarily a tax break'" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/25).

IN THE ZONE
: In Chicago, Hal Dardick notes zoning in the area of the proposed facility "already allows the practice center, so no vote was taken" by the commission. The presentation the Bulls put on was "done as a courtesy to city officials." Reinsdorf said that the facility would "include new or improved features such as therapeutic pools, a larger court, nicer locker rooms and a video room." The "saw-toothed façade" on Wood Street will "feature architectural metal panels, glazing and wood." The north side of the building along Madison will "be mostly glass." A parking lot will "have 162 spaces, with 56 in a fenced-in secure area with gated-entrance for players and staff on the east side of the building, adjacent to the Pink Line train." They will "have outdoor courtyards and a second-level green roof terrace" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/25).
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