Apparently, Russell Wilson really can do no wrong in Seattle.
The Seahawks’ $87.6 million franchise quarterback who’s already won the Northwest’s first Super Bowl championship announced Monday he has joined Chris Hansen’s investment team trying to build a new arena in the Sodo district of downtown Seattle to attract the NBA and NHL to the city.
“I'm blessed and excited to partner with Chris, Wally (Walker), Pete & Erik (Nordstrom) and the greatest fans in all of sports to bring the Sodo arena to our beloved city,” Wilson said in a statement released to The Associated Press by the Seattle arena investment group headed by Hansen, a billionaire investor in the Bay Area who was born and raised in Seattle.
“There is no place like the Emerald City. 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’s announcement came the day after his latest huge football win, the Seahawks’ 31-24 victory at AFC kingpin New England in which Wilson out-dueled the great Tom Brady in a national-showcase game. Wilson threw for a regular-season career-high 348 yards with three touchdowns.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Russell is joining our partnership and continued efforts to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle,” Hansen said Monday in a statement to the AP from his group. “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.”
Wilson is investing in Seattle’s best chance to get back the NBA team the city lost in 2008 to Oklahoma City. That was two years after a group of Oklahomans led by Clay Bennett bought the Seattle SuperSonics from a group led by Starbucks chief Howard Schultz.
Wilson, 28, grew up in Virginia then graduated from North Carolina State and played a fifth, post-graduate college football season for Wisconsin before the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. He planted major roots in the Seattle area in September 2015 when he bought a $6.7-million mansion on Lake Washington in Bellevue. That was after years of renting house in the Laurelhurst section of northeast Seattle, near the University of Washington and Children’s Hospital.
It’s not just all the Seahawks wins that have endeared Wilson to the city. For years he has visited Seattle Children’s on Tuesdays, the common weekly off day for players in the NFL, to visit the bedsides of the hospital’s sickest kids. His wife of four months, R&B singer Ciara, has joined him regularly on those visits for the last year.
He and Ciara would be Seattle’s First Couple if they were sitting courtside at a new arena the quarterback helped fund, cheering on the return of the Sonics in future NBA seasons, wouldn’t he?
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said moments after news broke of Wilson’s investment in the arena effort that he’s all for his quarterback getting involved in this civic push.
“He loves this community, and I think he’s interested in being a part of something that is really special to everyone here,” Carroll said. “We all are aware of how dear it is to the hearts of the people around here. And Russell would love to be part of something like that.”
Carroll said he didn’t know any of the details of the scope of Wilson’s investment or involvement in the arena effort. The Seahawks players were gone Monday afternoon after meetings and are off until practice on Wednesday for Sunday’s home game against Philadelphia.
“Sounds like fun,” Carroll said. “They should ask me; I’ll go to the games.”
I asked the coach who is believed to be making close to $10 million per year in his contract extension he signed this summer through 2019 if he’d like to be an investor with Wilson in a new Seattle arena.
“He’s got big (bucks)...that takes big coin, right?” Carroll said.
I told the coach we could start an online gofundme account to help him raise the capital.
“Just think, we could start it today,” Carroll joked.