Wheeling Doubles Down on Hockey
State, county and city officials, as well as community members and stakeholders gathered this week in Wheeling at the Wesbanco Arena, home Wheeling’s minor league ice hockey team, The Nailers. Officials met to see how renovations of the arena are coming along. So far: all new seats, new video screens, and new food vendors.
The city of Wheeling is rallying around their hockey team as a major key in efforts to revitalize the downtown. City manager Robert Herron reports that so far, $7.5 million have gone into renovations. The project is halfway done. New, extensive redesigns of the main lobby should be completed next summer. The renovations are funded by city sales taxes and some state grants, as well as contributions from community partners and organizations.
Vice-mayor Gene Fahey explains that the city owns the arena, and first decided to overhaul the building in 2008.
“The economic impact is just tremendous in both hockey and the improvements to this arena. I think it tells a lot of people in private business that the city is serious about keeping their infrastructure up and keeping this arena up,” Fahey said.
The Wesbanco Arena’s long-time building manager Dennis Magruder says turning an older building into a modern one is fiscally responsible and an example of resourcefulness:
“We’re just really excited and we’re looking forward to a tremendous season not only of hockey but all of the other activities, and we’re looking forward to being part of the catalyst of the rebirth of downtown.”
Magruder says other community partners include restaurateurs, local and national. He says they hope to turn hockey and other events into more extensive social gatherings to expand the arena’s economic impact in the area.