Russell Wilson Joins Sonics Arena Group to Bring NBA, NHL Teams to Seattle

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson speaks to the media following an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wants more professional sports in his team's city.

On Nov. 11, the 27-year-old announced on Twitter that he's partnering with the Sonics Arena Group to help bring NHL and NBA teams to Seattle.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press shared hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen's statement on the development:

On Thursday, Wilson said the goal is to build an arena first, but his plan is to have a stake in the franchise, per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com.

This is not the first time Wilson has advocated for the return of an NBA team in Seattle:

On Tuesday, Wilson elaborated on why he joined the group in an essay in the Players' Tribune:

To me, this is about more than nostalgia.

We live in divisive times, and sports have a way of bringing people closer together. They allow us all — children and adults — to use our imaginations and dream. I want kids in Seattle to grow up dreaming of playing basketball or hockey for their hometown team.

The Dave Softy Mahler Show on Sportsradio 950 KJR described Wilson's value to the effort to bring the NBA and NHL to the Emerald City: "Whatever the financial contribution by Wilson is, I would think his presence on the team to help lobby City Council would be very important."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discussed his quarterback's decision, per Brady Henderson of 710 ESPN Seattle: "He loves his community. I think he's interested in being part of something that's really special here."

According to Chris Daniels of King 5, Wilson will join an investment group that includes Hansen, Wally Walker, Erik Nordstrom and Pete Nordstrom. The group has been working toward the goal of building an arena in the city's SoDo neighborhood since 2012, with the idea of bringing additional teams to the Pacific Northwest.

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Daniels noted the city council refused to approve a street vacation that would be needed to build the arena in SoDo. However, Daniels cited a source who said Wilson is prepared to actively campaign at City Hall to bolster the project.

In October, Hansen said in a letter he would forgo a request for public funding and provide $200 million privately to help build an arena, per Mike Coppinger of USA Today.

The SuperSonics played in Seattle from 1967 to 2008 before moving to Oklahoma City and becoming the Thunder.

They won the 1978-79 NBA title under coach Lenny Wilkens with players such as Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams. They also reached the NBA Finals in 1995-96 behind Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp but ultimately lost to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in six games.

Seattle missed out on the primes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook after the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, but Wilson appears to be ready to do whatever is necessary to make sure the city's basketball and hockey fans don't miss out on more in the future.

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