Commentary: Russell Wilson will prove to be SODO Arena Plan’s MVP

When it comes to Russell Wilson, I think we’d all agree that for all the improvisation he’s known for on the field, every move he makes off the field is thoughtful, deliberate and calculated.

Let’s run down the list of causes Wilson stands for: From Strong Against Cancer and the promise of T-cell therapy, to his support of the Pass the Peace initiative to combat domestic violence, to his own Why Not You Foundation, encouraging kids to overcome obstacles and make a positive impact. There’s no doubt Russell Wilson gets behind causes for the greater good.

But he’s also very selective. If he’s not 110% behind it, he’s not doing it.

And that’s why his involvement with Chris Hansen’s SODO Arena Group is so incredibly important. He’s not just a figurehead. He’s an investor. He’s a potential stakeholder in a future NBA team. He’s the face this cause so desperately needed.

Because for whatever reason, a fully-privately funded arena with zero public contribution somehow doesn’t seem to be enough. And for whatever reason, a simple street vacation, with a full recommendation from the city’s Department of Transportation, has unfortunately become the symbol of some philosophical clash of ideals, dreamed up by the Port of Seattle to win a PR war without providing empirical data to support their claims.

You want a PR war? Fine. Then say it to Russell Wilson, who’s now on our side. Just listen to what he said about the SODO Arena plan earlier this week:

“The time is now. I know the City of Seattle, the people of Seattle would love it. I know the state of Washington would love it because I think that it’s a special thing. It’s going to continue to unify this city. And hopefully we can continue to win football championships too, and maybe some baseball ones, and hopefully some basketball and hockey ones too. I want to be able to help people, give back and help continue to change this community for the better."

It’s fitting that Wilson, an eternal optimist, is giving his face to a pro-NBA and NHL crowd that has continued to fight in the face of consistent disappointment for the last eight years. And it’s appropriate that he’s giving a face to the infinite patience Hansen’s group has had with our local leaders throughout this entire process.

I dare those leaders to look Wilson square in the eye and tell him that his hopes and dreams of unifying the city through more sports teams in SODO isn’t in the cards. I dare them to tell him that his hopes of doing something remarkable – something historical and truly special - is somehow misguided because he’s trying to build an arena in an area already zoned for arenas!

And if they still do, we know Russell will fight. Because that’s what he does when people tell him that he can’t or that he won’t. That’s what he does when people tell him no.

So, thank you, Russell, for joining this cause. Thank you for your willingness to see the forest through the trees.

And thank you for taking the ball as our quarterback on this field too – and helping get that privately-funded arena built right down the street.