Wilson joins fight to bring Sonics back

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson warms up before Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson warms up before Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. The Associated Press

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’s 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 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. “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.

For years he’s visited Seattle Children’s on Tuesdays, the common weekly off day for players in the NFL, to visit the hospital’s sickest kids. His wife of four months, R&B singer Ciara, has joined him regularly on those visits for the past year.