United Center plans office building that could open up arena amenities

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The United Center’s 300 employees need more office space, so a new office building may go up in the eastern portion of the stadium’s parking lot, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The office building would house a new Bulls-Blackhawks team store that would be open to the public and front on Madison Street, said Howard Pizer, the United Center’s executive vice president.

Pizer confirmed remarks made at a real estate forum on Tuesday by Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, who is an investor in the Chicago Sun-Times’ parent company, Wrapports.

When the United Center opened 20 years ago, its tenants — the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the center’s administrative offices and Levy Catering’s ushering and catering service — could never have envisioned the need for space to house today’s technologies, such as website development and in-house TV studios, Pizer said.

“The need for technology and social media [space] has exploded,” he said.

A decision whether to build the office building will happen in the next couple of months, Pizer said.

Pizer said no decisions have been made on how to recoup the lost parking spaces or what to do with the space left vacant inside the United Center arena.

If the office-building plan goes through, fans could see new amenities inside the arena that would keep them on-site — perhaps a new restaurant or restaurants, retail space and other as-yet-unknown attractions, Pizer said.

Pizer said the plans are too uncertain to revive a 2-year-old idea for a $75 million championship entertainment complex at the United Center with video, bars, restaurants and an atrium entertainment space.

“That’s not part of the story,” he said.

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