Wheeling Officials Upset With Magruder’s Comments

WHEELING – WesBanco Arena is operating at a deficit, but it was city officials who were seeing red Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey and City Manager Robert Herron expressed their disappointment with comments made by arena Executive Director Denny Magruder in a story appearing in that morning’s edition of The Intelligencer.

The story outlined the revenue losses under which the arena has been operating during the first nine months of the fiscal year. Revenue deficiencies have been made up through the city’s hotel/motel tax dollars. Magruder attributed part of the financial downturn to disappointing attendance figures at Wheeling Nailers hockey games.

“I was very disappointed in the comments from the staff of the WesBanco Arena,” said Fahey, a member of the city’s sports and entertainment authority which oversees the arena. “I see things in a much more positive light.”

Herron agreed, saying there are many positive things happening at the arena and with the hockey club. He said more improvements are in the works for the facility.

“The Nailers ownership is really starting to get their traction. I’m very proud of what (Regional Economic Development Authority) and the (Wheeling Amateur Hockey Association) have been able to accomplish,” Herron said. “We are looking to renew the Nailers for three more years. The arena is a very important asset for downtown Wheeling, not just for the Nailers, but for the other entertainment communities. I was disappointed in some of the comments made.”

In other business, Herron told council he is in the process of meeting with department heads regarding their operational needs and will compile reports for council by the end of May to formulate the spending and revenue projections for the new fiscal year which begins July 1. Herron also said the city is seeing the results of its new sales tax.

Council heard first reading of an ordinance to pay $192.265 to Kelly Paving Inc. of Rayland to pave sections of Edgington Lane Knox Lane, Nichols Avenue and Kelly Drive.

In formal action, council approved an ordinance on a 5-0 vote to purchase the former Howard’s Diamond Center jewelry store at 1125 Market St. at a cost of $58,815, to be paid with tax increment financing revenue. The price is nearly twice the property’s most recent assessed value, $29,700. The city plans to tear down the building, adding to the open space in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets officials plan to market for future development.