Plans for new practice facility please Bulls

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Plans for new practice facility please Bulls

LOS ANGELES In a long-rumored move, the Bulls, in conjunction with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuels office, officially announced plans to build a new practice facility in the city. The facility will be built on a parking lot adjacent to the United Center -- Parking Lot J, which sits east of the United Center across South Wood Street between Monroe and Madison Streets -- and the organization will move in prior to the 2014-15 season.

"I am pleased that the Bulls are moving their practice facilities into the City of Chicago and continuing the great work revitalizing the entire neighborhood around the United Center," said Mayor Emanuel. "The Bulls are an iconic championship team and a source of pride for our city. Their future, and the future of the West Side, is bright."

Added Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf: "Todays announcement is the latest example of our longstanding commitment to the City of Chicago and to our fans.

Investing in a modern facility for our players and coaches will help us to achieve our teams number one goal winning championships while also playing an important role in the citys ongoing redevelopment efforts in our West Side neighborhood," he continued. Mayor Emanuel has done a tremendous job promoting investment in the City of Chicago. The Mayor stressed that the Bulls brand is important to the city, nationally and internationally, and that the Bulls represent the spirit and competitive grit of Chicago. He thought centralizing our team assets inside the city limits would be a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to Chicago. We had been contemplating how to address the growing demands on our current practice facility for awhile, so the Mayors timing and ours made sense.

Chimed in Bulls, COO Michael Reinsdorf: We share Mayor Emanuels vision for the West Side and are proud that this new facility will be a major part of that vision, said President and COO Michael Reinsdorf. Our current practice facility presented some limitations for us and as we looked to invest in the teams future, we recognized the importance of also investing in our community.

Meanwhile, before the Bulls practiced in advance of Saturday night's game against the Clippers, the team expressed excitement about the news. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau referenced the issue of Chicagos notorious traffic being a positive benefit of having a practice facility in the city, as players will likely opt to live in the city, instead of the north suburbs, which is convenient to Deerfields Berto Center, built in 1992 and named after team chairman Jerry Reinsdorfs late assistant, Sheri L. Berto.

Were excited about it. I think its going to be a state-of-the-art facility. I think it gives our players the best chance at improvement, he said prior to the teams practice on the campus of UCLA. Obviously we love the United Center and now we think the practice facility will be second to none.

The Bertos been great and its served us well for a long time, and we all enjoy living out there. The big issue is basically the traffic on gameday, so its become more problematic for us. The Blackhawks moved down there, it seemed to work well for them. I think at this point, when you take everything into consideration, it makes the most sense to be downtown and were excited about it, continued the coach, who will face a team coached by his predecessor, Vinny Del Negro. The Berto Center, at the time when they built that, I think it was the first one and it still, in many ways, serves us well now. The court area is fantastic, but I think as the staffs have grown and things have changed, youd like a little more space. But its a great facility and for us, the main thing has been the traffic and were looking forward to being downtown having a great facility. Weve put a lot of research into it, so we think its going to be an incredible facility.

Added Taj Gibson: "Its going to be great.

"Get more sleep on game days instead of going through all that traffic. Hopefully Ill be able to move downtown. I think its going to be a better environment," he continued. "That traffic kills you every day. When youre coming to the game, youre in traffic for like two hours every time."

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.