Russell Wilson grew up in Virginia and went to college in North Carolina and Wisconsin, but as Seahawks quarterback he has seemingly committed himself to being sports ambassador for the Pacific Northwest.
On Friday, ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that Wilson and his wife, pop star Ciara, have pledged money to the Portland Diamond Project, a group seeking to bring Major League Baseball to Portland. Wilson is also a partner in a venture to bring an NBA team back to Seattle.
Here’s what ESPN has to say Wilson’s involvement in the MLB-to-Portland effort:
No financial details were announced, but a source said all partners in the venture split the costs equally for the effort. If MLB were to award the city an expansion franchise, those involved in the project would naturally be the favorites to be owners. It would be more complicated if a current team with an existing owner moved to town.
The Portland Diamond Project was formally announced earlier this month. It is led by former Nike executive Craig Cheek, who got to know Wilson when the quarterback signed his endorsement deal with the brand. The plan is to acquire land in the area and begin the process to build a ballpark.
Portland has been bandied around for a while as a potential fit for MLB, but the possibility has come to seem increasingly realistic in recent months as commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed his desire to expand to 32 teams. However, the league has indicated interest in expanding its international footprint, making Montreal and Mexico City the favorites at the moment, with Portland, Charlotte and others in the next group.
It’s a bit surprising to see Wilson pushing for an MLB team in Portland given that his adopted hometown of Seattle already has one, but apparently he’s got some regional pride… and also wants to co-own a sports team. Per ESPN, the NFL would have to approve any transaction that resulted in him owning a team in another league.
Wilson, of course, has a baseball background, having played in college and in the minor leagues. This spring, he attended Yankees Spring Training and even got an at-bat. That doesn’t qualify him to run a baseball team, but it’s a start.