There has been another twist in the ongoing Seattle arena story.
The day after leading his team to a win over the Patriots, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson announced via Twitter that he has joined Chris Hansen and his partners with the investment group working to build a brand new multi-purpose arena that could be the home for an NBA franchise or possibly an NHL expansion team in the city’s SoDo neighborhood.
“I’m excited to announce I’ve partnered w/ the Sonics Arena Group to help bring the @NBA & @NHL to the best fan base in the world,” Wilson tweeted from his verified account.
A Super Bowl champion with the Seahawks, Wilson’s star power and popularity with sports fans in that market could be a major boost to the investment group as it looks for permission from the city to move forward with this project.
The Hansen group’s effort to build a new arena is currently in limbo, with the city council refusing to approve a street vacation in SODO that is needed for building the proposed arena. In the meantime, Mayor Ed Murray announced the city is seeking bids from groups to remodel Key Arena in Seattle Center, the former home of the Sonics.
When asked whether Wilson was expected to campaign at City Hall to get the project done, one source replied, “He is prepared to do that.”
Last month, in a major turn of events in this story, it was reported that Hansen and his investment group offered to forgo public funding for the arena project.
The very next day, another report from King 5 News stated that the mayor’s office was exploring the idea of renovating Key Arena, the old home of the Sonics before the team left Seattle.
Monday’s news certainly adds another element to this whole saga. It also shows the Hansen investment group is making a strong push to try to get something done with the city, which would be vital to the prospects of getting an NHL team in Seattle.
“We’re not paying a lot of attention to Seattle,” said commissioner Gary Bettman, per NHL.com.
“If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one we might pay attention. But it’s not something we’re monitoring. We’re not focusing on future expansion at this point and we’re not focusing on Seattle over anywhere else.”