RENTON, Wash. (AP) Russell Wilson believes joining an investment group looking to build a new NBA/NHL arena in Seattle is the first step toward his goal of eventually owning a piece of a professional sports franchise.
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback talked at length Thursday about joining Chris Hansen in the attempt to get a new arena constructed in Seattle's stadium district.
He spoke for nearly 10 minutes before addressing a single football-related question as his involvement in the project has drawn nearly as much interest as his production on the field.
''It's one of those things that we need to make it happen, just because it's a special thing. It will be for years and years to come,'' Wilson said. ''I want my kids to have that opportunity. Nothing better than going to an NBA basketball game and being able to see basketball players - NHL game, there's so many great athletes. There's so many other great things you can do in the new facility, too, as well. I think that will be really special.''
Wilson announced he was joining Hansen's investment group on Monday. He said he's known Hansen for a couple of years and the timing was right for Wilson to formally join.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Wilson signed a contract extension worth up to $87 million before the 2015 season, giving him the financial clout to be an investor. And his name gives an instant and significant public relations boost to a project that has faced road blocks from political figures.
''I've been really authentic about wanting to own a team one day and being a part of something really special and doing that and even though I'm young and that I definitely have a business mindset and I want to be able to help people and give back and help change this community, continue to change this community for the better,'' Wilson said.
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.
Wilson said the important task now is getting city approval to close down a street near where the proposed arena would be constructed. Wilson said he would lobby city officials if asked to try to build support for the project. He acknowledged the investment in the arena is the first step to someday having an ownership stake in a franchise.
''Those guys knew that I really wanted to be a part of owning a team one day. And obviously I can't own a team until we have a team. I can't be a part of that,'' Wilson said. ''So like I said, the first step was the arena part. And that's our focus right now. And then once we have an arena, then the goal is to obviously own a basketball team as part of it and have great people, great individuals, a great organization that helps change people's lives, do great things in the community and hopefully win a lot of championships, too.''
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