There is a showdown brewing in Seattle right now over proposed plans for a billionaire-backed arena that Chris Hansen plans to finance himself and a renovated KeyArena that the city might sell to the highest bidder. Quarterback Russell Wilson has chosen his side. Will Seahawks fans follow him?
Wilson announced Monday night that he is now partnered with Chris Hansen’s Sonics Arena Group, which wants to build a new arena in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood that could be the new home of NBA and NHL franchises.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) November 14, 2016
Whether that means Wilson is financially involved in the plans or is just publicly throwing support behind the project remains to be seen. Hansen referred to Wilson as his “business partner” in a statement.
Hansen’s proposed arena was thought to be dead back in May when the Seattle City Council said no to selling a street that the billionaire needed in order to build his arena as proposed. Hansen continued to buy up land around the neighborhood and shocked many by announcing he and his investors were willing to forgo all public funds and pay for the arena themselves. Hansen still needs the city to okay the sale of that street for it to happen and faces opposition from the local port and others.
Meanwhile, Seattle mayor Ed Murray was quietly working on plans to redevelop KeyArena and make it feasible for current NBA and NHL demands. Some argue that the city should just repurpose the existing arena rather than create potential traffic and business headaches with a new one.
There’s a ways to go before the city makes a final decision, but Russell Wilson holds a lot of sway when it comes to Seahawks fans around town. If Russ is going to tell people to back the SoDo arena, you can expect to see a lot of local move in that direction.