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Volume 24 No. 156

Facilities

The Bears next March will "break ground on an expansion project that doubles the size" of their Halas Hall HQ, according to Kenney & Jahns of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Bears GM Ryan Pace "spearheaded the expansion project in an effort to modernize their football operations." Team officials "toured college and other NFL facilities in the offseason for ideas." A 162,500-square-foot building "will be added to Halas Hall, their current 143,000-square-foot home." The new building "essentially will be a player training and performance center." It will "include a 13,000-square-foot indoor turf field, a 133-by-26 video projection wall and a virtual-reality room." The weight room "also will be expanded by 2,000 square feet." Position meeting rooms, the draft room, the cafeteria and other offices "will increase in size as part of the expansion, which was designed by the architecture firm HOK." Mortenson Construction is the general contractor for the project, which is "expected to be finished" by August '19 (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/18). In Chicago, Colleen Kane noted the sports medicine space will "expand to four times its current size and will include a hydrotherapy pool." In a separate project, the Bears are "also adding two outdoor fields to bring their total to four." Such a project "fuels speculation that the Bears might want to move training camp to Lake Forest from Bourbonnais, though no such plans were announced" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/18).

In Memphis, Mark Giannotto noted the Univ. of Memphis "unveiled the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center on Friday." The approximately 62,000-square-foot structure cost more than $20.5M and "features palatial architecture and state-of-the-art amenities." Among the luxuries are a "theater-style film room, several lounges with flat-screen televisions, an academic center that will be used by multiple Memphis athletic teams and four high-definition cameras around the 14,000-square-foot practice court that can isolate on an individual player." There is also "5,000 square feet of interior glass," and a 3,250-square-foot weight room that is "two stories tall" (COMMERCIALAPPEAL.com, 11/17).

I'VE GOT YOU IN MY SIGHTS: In Providence, Kate Bramson noted the Triple-A Int'l League Pawtucket Red Sox have "identified another potential stadium location -- just over the Massachusetts state line, an old industrial site off Route 95." When asked how seriously the team is considering the site, PawSox Chair Larry Lucchino said, "I'm not going to sort of begin to rank the (sites)." Attleboro Dir of Planning & Development Gary Ayrassian said that the "'fairly large site' is perhaps 8 to 10 acres and is now empty." Attleboro City Council President Frank Cook said that he personally "hasn’t met with anyone from the PawSox," and he is "not aware of meetings" between Mayor Kevin Dumas and the PawSox (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 11/18).

SAFETY FIRST: In Boston, Brian Dowling noted the Red Sox will be "adding more safety netting along both baselines next season" at Fenway Park. The backstop netting that currently stretches to the inner edge of each dugout "will be extended about 140 feet down the first- and third-baselines" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/19).