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Sources: Nailers Sale Finalized

Team would stay in Wheeling

March 26, 2012
By SHAWN RINE - Sports Editor , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING Sixty days after co-owners Rob and Jim Brooks announced they were putting the Wheeling Nailers up for sale after nine years of operating the team, sources confirmed to the Wheeling News-Register that two local groups the Regional Economic Development Partnership and the Wheeling Amateur Hockey Association -- have finalized a deal to buy the franchise.

A formal announcement is likely to be made this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. According to ECHL bylaws, change in ownership must be a three-year commitment.

The potential sale ends a turbulent few months for fans of the team, as city officials and other groups worked hand-in-hand on the issue with both the Nailers and the ECHL.

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Several "drop-dead" dates to get the sale completed that were mandated by the league came and went, fueling concern the Nailers might not be back in the Friendly City after calling it home for 20 years.

The Brooks brothers announced the team's sale during a mid-January news conference inside the team's home at WesBanco Arena. Because of their many ventures, most notably their American Hockey League team the Adirondack Phantoms, the brothers said they simply didn't have time to run an ECHL franchise any longer. They currently are in the process of getting a multi-million dollar arena built for that team in Allentown, Pa.

Several different groups were rumored to have been interested in acquiring the Nailers during the process, but in the end Rob and Jim Brooks elected to go with RED and WAHA, assuring the team will remain local. The RED contingent is headed by Don Rigby, the organization's executive director. WAHA, meanwhile, is represented by Tim Roberts, a former Wheeling Thunderbird and an ex-Wheeling Central Catholic hockey coach who has been highly instrumental in the growth of the sport in the Ohio Valley.

The Nailers' performance on the ice may have played a factor. The team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, and is on the verge of clinching a second consecutive playoff berth, the third in four seasons.

Attendance also has risen. The team is averaging more than 3,000 fans a night this season, and has hit that mark in seven of the last nine games.

The final regular-season home game is set for 7:35 p.m. Saturday against the Elmira Jackals.

Rigby was unavailable for comment this morning as he was reported to be in meetings at press time. Roberts with WAHA also was unavailable for comment when called this morning.

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