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."

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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