2008 was a big year for me.
It was my first year as starting QB at NC State. My first trip to a bowl game. And the honor of being named first-team All-ACC. That year was also a big one for Seattle sports fans, but not for a good reason. It was the first year without NBA basketball in our city.
Growing up in Virginia, the Sonics were one of my favorite teams to follow. Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Sam “Big Smooth” Perkins — on the basketball courts near my home, these were the players I often pretended to be.
The younger me could only dream of one day being a professional in any sport, let alone win a Super Bowl. Now I get a chance at fulfilling another dream. Being part of an NBA ownership group.
I have joined and partnered with the Sonics Arena Investment Group because I believe in the plan Chris Hansen, Wally Walker, and Erik and Pete Nordstrom have put together. And I believe building a privately funded, state-of-the-art arena alongside Seattle’s other great stadiums is the best shot for bringing the NBA back to the city I now call home.
Recently, our group sent a letter to the Seattle City Council outlining a new proposal to privately fund the arena. In the letter, we provide details about our commitment to improving freight mobility in the area, and emphasize that the street vacation wouldn’t go into effect until an NBA team is secured. We also make clear that by approving the conditional street vacation the Seattle City Council will not interfere with the RFP process proposed for Key Arena, but rather put Seattle in the best possible position to take advantage of franchise opportunities that could become available.
One thing not emphasized in the letter, however, is something I know the City Council shares my passion for: How the return of the NBA can benefit Seattle youth, particularly those in traditionally underserved communities.
Obviously, I’m a big believer in the power of sports to improve lives. Not only do they teach kids critical lessons like the importance of teamwork and commitment, they also provide much-needed structure and activity outside of school.
Sports — and sports idols — can also inspire kids. Like a lot of you, this is something I experienced first-hand when I was young. And it’s something I experience first-hand today, as my fellow Seahawks and I visit young people throughout Seattle communities.
For years, the Sonics were an inspiration for the kids of Seattle. Local heroes our youth could look up to. Even thousands of miles away, I looked up to Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Ray Allen — I can only imagine what it was like being able to watch them in your hometown.
Bringing the NBA back to Seattle will provide our youth with a new set of local heroes to look up to. Kids who love football have a pro team to follow. Same with baseball fans and soccer fans. Now it’s time to inspire the kids who love basketball.
Approving the conditional street vacation makes the Arena shovel-ready, and sends a loud message to the NBA that Seattle is ready and eager for teams. That we want our Sonics back to accompany the Storm. All we need is for the Seattle City Council to make this one last nod of approval.
I’m excited to be a part of the Arena Group, and I look forward to watching the Sonics play in my adopted hometown.
One lasting memory that I know correlates with every Seattle fan is when we won the Super Bowl and were able to bring home the Lombardi trophy, the millions of faces and hearts and souls that were, are and will be forever connected to our team is what can help to continue to bring a community together.
This is what our society and our generations to come all need because it brings all different races, socioeconomic statuses and demographics together under one roof. We do not want to just win on the court, but also in our beloved community.
— Russell Wilson