By K.C. Johnson, Tribune reporter
8:06 PM CST, November 16, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- The Bulls reacted favorably to Friday's announcement that a practice facility will be built near the United Center scheduled for the 2014-15 season.
"We're excited about it," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "It's going to be a state-of-the-art facility. It gives our players the best chance at improvement. Obviously, we love the United Center. And we think the practice facility will be second-to-none."
The Tribune reported in May that the Bulls were looking to sell the Berto Center in suburban Deerfield and explore downtown locations. Friday's release said the new building will be roughly 55,000 square feet and built in parking Lot J, which is east of the United Center across South Wood Street and between Monroe and Madison streets.
"The Berto has been great and it has served us well for a long time," Thibodeau said. "And we enjoy living out there. The big issue is basically the traffic on game day. It has become more problematic for us. The Blackhawks moved (downtown) and it seemed to work well for them. When you take everything into consideration, it makes the most sense to be downtown."
Most players and coaches live in the northern suburbs. With morning shootarounds in Deerfield, players either fight traffic or leave very early and stay at a downtown hotel on home game days to beat the rush-hour commute to the United Center. A downtown facility will eliminate this expense.
"It's going to be great," forward Taj Gibson said. "Get more sleep on game days instead of going through all that traffic. Hopefully, I'll be able to move downtown. I think it's going to be a better environment.
"That traffic kills you every day. When you're coming to the game, you're in traffic for like two hours every time."
The Bulls moved into the Berto Center in September 1992.
"When they built that, I think it was the first one," Thibodeau said. "It still in many ways serves us well now. The court area is fantastic. You can't ask for any better. But the staff has grown. Things have changed. You like a little more space."
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