Bringing in More Money at the Arena

WesBanco Arena Manager Dennis Magruder’s frustration with finances is understandable. It was clear when our reporter discussed the matter with him this week.

Financial statements show that during the first nine months of the fiscal year, the arena’s expenses of about $1.32 million were not offset by operating revenue of about $1.22 million. Fortunately, $204,000 in revenue from the county’s “bed tax” on lodging establishments more than made up the difference.

We suspect the long spell of bad weather this winter had something to do with lagging revenue. Many entertainment venues were affected adversely by local residents’ reluctance to go out in the cold on slippery roads.

But Magruder also is aware that bringing crowd-pleasing “acts” to arenas such as ours is not as easy as it was many years ago. There is more competition than when the then-Civic Center was built in 1977.

It needs to be remembered that the arena never was intended as a revenue center for the city of Wheeling. It was built in part to provide a venue for local events and to attract visitors to downtown Wheeling and the surrounding area. It still does that, especially during the dozens of nights a year the Nailers professional hockey team is playing.

Arena improvements planned by city officials may help attract more people to the facility – if they are visitor-friendly.

All that said, Magruder is right to be looking continually for ways to reduce costs and bring in more revenue. Frankly, it’s good to hear a public official worried about money.