Seattle NBA/NHL arena push gets boost from Russell Wilson

Tim Booth | Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — The push to get a new NBA/NHL arena built in Seattle’s stadium district received a boost on Monday from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

He’s not just offering support. Wilson is becoming an investor.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Russell is joining our partnership and continued efforts to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle,” lead investor Chris Hansen said in a statement. “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.”

Details of Wilson’s level of investment were not released, but he brings celebrity clout to a project that has seen progress and significant setbacks since it first started five years ago.

Hansen has been the primary investor, with members of the Nordstrom family and former Seattle SuperSonics team president and minority owner Wally Walker also part of the investment group. Hansen called Wilson, “A young, smart and passionate entrepreneur.”

“I’m blessed and excited to partner with Chris, Wally, Pete and Erik, and the greatest fans in all of sports to bring the SODO arena to our beloved city; there is no place like the Emerald City,” Wilson said in a statement. “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.”

Hansen last month announced his intention to privately finance the proposed project in exchange for tax breaks. The offer would erase the public investment that was part of the original 2012 memorandum of understanding between Hansen and the city.

The city has acknowledged Hansen’s intent while also opening a request for proposals for a possible renovation of KeyArena, the former home of the SuperSonics. The proposals are due in 2017.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he was not surprised to hear of Wilson’s involvement.

“He loves his community,” Carroll said. “I think he’s interested in being part of something that’s really special here.”