Save The Arena Dates

WHEELING — A scheduling conflict could lead to changes in a longstanding Ohio Valley athletic tradition next winter.

The Wheeling Municipal Auditorium Board wants to hold the West Virginia State Wrestling Tournament at Wesbanco Arena on Feb. 26-28, 2009, but the Wheeling Nailers hockey team has games scheduled at the venue Feb. 27-28.

Members of the Municipal Auditorium Board worked to come up with solutions to this conflict during a meeting Thursday.

“We’re trying to come up with something that’s good for our community and our people,” said board member Kim Miller.

Miller suggested the Feb. 28 hockey game be moved to midnight to allow time for the wrestling tournament to precede it. It has not been determined if the Feb. 27 hockey game could be moved or rescheduled.

Rob Brooks, co-president and co-owner of the Wheeling Nailers, said he wants the Nailers to be part of the Wheeling community. Still, he believes Feb. 27-28 is a vital weekend for hockey.

“That Friday and Saturday are one of the best schedules we’ve had in five years. It’s definitely going to be tough for us. We don’t mind losing some money to stay in town, but we’re losing a little more than we want,” said Brooks.

Denny Magruder, executive director of WesBanco Arena, is considering both sides of the issue. “I only hope we can do what’s right for the community,” he said.

Board member Bob Dunlevy believes holding the wrestling tournament at WesBanco Arena will be beneficial to Wheeling, but he is mindful of the previously scheduled hockey games.

“This would fill up hotel rooms. It’s a big asset to the city,” he said of the wrestling tournament. But turning to Brooks, he added, “We have an obligation to you (Brooks), and we know that.”

Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Wrestling Tournament Director Ron Mauck also weighed in on the issue

“We have been here for 30 years. We have been very supportive of every activity that’s been here. This is our home,” Mauck said of the arena. “People come here from all over the country for this tournament.”

Brooks noted that Nailers games are family-oriented events. “We’re here for the community,” said Brooks. “We want to make sure we can stay in town.”

Officials expect to resolve the issue by the end of April.