Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf elaborated Thursday on reasons why he is planning to re-locate his team's practice facility from suburban Deerfield to Chicago, saying his respect for Mayor Rahm Emanuel was a major factor and that the decision had "nothing to do with the possible expansion of the United Center."
"The mayor asked me if we would bring the Bulls back downtown and I'm so impressed with the job he's doing, I thought it was the natural and right thing to do to support him," Reinsdorf said in a telephone interview with ESPNChicago.com. "We knew we had to make the Berto bigger because we had run out of space and we can't expand on the site, and we wanted to look up north to see if there was another site.
"But when [the mayor] asked us to come downtown, we thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't ask him for any tax breaks and we may never do the United Center expansion. ... This thing is going to happen regardless of what happens with the United Center."
The Bulls moved from the Multiplex, a public health club in the area, into what was then a state-of-the-art facility during the summer of 1992, after the first of the team's eventual six NBA titles. Reinsdorf christened the non-descript gray building the Sheri L. Berto Center after his longtime assistant, who passed away suddenly at age 40 during routine surgery in September of '91, while the building was under construction.
"It was an emotional thing," Reinsdorf recalled, "and we wanted to do something for her."
The new facility, however, probably will not be named the Berto Center, he said.
"But we'll still have some significant recognition there for Sheri," Reinsdorf said.