Russell Wilson says he’s become part owner of the Sounders partly to keep the soccer team in Seattle
Russell Wilson’s first sport as kid?
It wasn’t football.
It wasn’t even baseball, even though the Colorado Rockies eventually selected Wilson in the fourth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft before he played low-Class-A minor-league ball as a middle infielder.
It was soccer.
“I was a goalie,” the Seahawks’ quarterback in that “other” football said Thursday. “And an attacker.”
Wilson said that is part of the reason he and his wife, Ciara, invested to become part owners of the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer this month.
Another reason: He says he wanted to keep the Sounders in Seattle.
“First of all, for our family,” Wilson said of his and Ciara’s two young children. “I’ve always wanted to be a sports owner. I’ve always wanted to be involved in cultures, and continuing to establish them and grow them. Be around great players. You know, I’ve always loved sports. I’ve also always loved going to Sounders games. It’s always...I love the crowd. I love the chants they do, the clapping. It’s pretty cool.
“I think it’s something great. It’s a legacy thing for our family, too. We really care about Seattle. It’s a special place for us.
“We wanted to make sure it didn’t move anywhere else, to be honest with you. That was a thought, a little bit of a thought.
“So to get involved and be a part of it, it’s really special.”
Wilson signed an NFL-record $140 million contract with the Seahawks in April.
Wilson’s and Ciara’s investment in the Sounders, part of 11 new Seattle-based co-owners, came after investors in California showed interest in the team, according to Bloomberg. When Hollywood film executive Joe Roth decided to sell his minority ownership share in the team, Adrian Hanauer, the Sounders’ principal majority owner, increased his stake in them.
Then 11 local investors, including Wilson and his wife, divvied up what was then left of Roth’s share of the team, after Hanauer’s bump in equity.
The team announced the deal Aug. 13, two weeks after it closed. Terms were not disclosed. A Security and Exchange Commission filing shows Wilson, Ciara and the 10 other Seattle-based investors paid a combined $58.6 million for Roth’s share of the Sounders.
Wilson was asked if his interest in ownership came after the Sounders’ owners came to him and Ciara and explained a California group wanted to buy the team and possibly relocate it.
“Without getting into too much detail, I think that (former Microsoft Corp. executive) Terry Myerson and I—you know, we know each other—kind of connected (that) there could be an opportunity,” Wilson said. “I also know Adrian pretty well, too. We kind of talked about, ‘Hey, there could be an opportunity.’ As soon as (we heard that it was), ‘Hey, we’d love to be involved. Let’s get this going going. Let’s get everybody enthused about it.’
“Then we had dinner, actually at our house, me and Ciara’s house (on Lake Washington in Bellevue), this was probably November, I’d assume. I can’t remember exactly, the date, to be honest with you. But we had pretty much all the families over to our house and we said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do this.’ Just trying to get all the information in what was going on, and really just try to say, ‘Hey, let’s keep this in Seattle. Let’s keep the Sounders in Seattle.’
“And so, took a cool selfie photo and said, ‘Let’s do this.’ And then we were in. And that’s all she wrote.”
Myerson wrote a post online after the sale on LinkedIn entitled “Eternal Blue, Forever Green.” In it, Myerson confirms Wilson’s inference that the Sounders moving was at least a discussed possibility.
Myerson wrote Hanauer “shared that his partner, Joe Roth, was considering selling his equity in the Seattle Sounders—and that a California investment group was being very aggressive in getting a deal done. The investment group was making creative offers to buy out more than just Joe to try to take control of the team. (Later, Ben Haggerty aka Macklemore would describe the situation perfectly ‘I don’t know these California guys... but I know these California guys. We need to own this team in Seattle.’) I told Adrian that morning that I wanted to work in partnership with him to find a solution.”