SEATTLE - He's won a Super Bowl. But can he win over Seattle City Hall?
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson today announced he is partnering with the investment group that has been working since 2012 to build a sports arena in Seattle's SODO neighborhood.
Around 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, Wilson tweeted: "I'm excited to announce I've partnered w/ the Sonics Arena Group to help bring the @NBA & @NHL to the best fan base in the world. Seattle."
In a statement, Wilson said he wants to do his part to return the Sonics to Seattle.
“There is no place like the Emerald City,” Wilson said. “The positive impact sports has on our kids and many generations to come, and bringing different cultures and people together is what motivates and inspires me."
Wilson joins Chris Hansen, Wally Walker, and Erik and Pete Nordstrom as partners in the investment group. The amount of Wilson's financial contribution is not known.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Russell is joining our partnership and continued efforts to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle," said Chris Hansen. "As you are all aware, we have always kept our focus on doing this for the right reasons – Our love for our City, our love of basketball, and our belief that pro-sports has the ability to positively influence our youth and bring communities together in a way very few things in this world can. It is with this shared view that we welcome Russell, a young, smart and passionate entrepreneur, as our business partner. We know that his enthusiasm, positivity, and 'never give up' attitude will make a huge difference in our effort.”
"In our efforts to bring a world class arena to Seattle, we are fortunate to have added a fantastic partner. Russell embodies the positive impact that sports provide a community. We can’t wait to work with him in our pursuit," Walker said.
Sources close to the investment group say the discussions with Wilson were underway for several weeks before today's announcement.
The Seahawks quarterback has publicly touted his support for building a new arena near Seattle's baseball and football stadiums, in addition to bringing an NBA franchise back to the city. In an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" last week, Wilson appeared in a recorded bit in which he said "Thank You" to former Sonics player Kevin Durant; the Sonics logo appeared at the same time.
Wilson is coming off his biggest game of the season, throwing for nearly 350 yards to defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
The Hansen group's effort to build a new arena is currently in limbo, with the city council refusing to approve a street vacation in SODO that is needed for building the proposed arena. In the meantime, Mayor Ed Murray announced the city is seeking bids from groups to remodel Key Arena in Seattle Center, the former home of the Sonics.
When asked whether Wilson was expected to campaign at City Hall to get the project done, one source replied, "He is prepared to do that."