WHEELING - The Wheeling Nailers hockey team is coming to a city near you. At least that's the plan of the new ownership group, The Hockey Club of the Ohio Valley, which is a conglomerate of the Wheeling Amateur Hockey Association and the Regional Economic Development Partnership.
Not only will members of the team and coaching staff be visible outside the immediate Wheeling area, but residents will be seeing a lot of the organization even when it isn't physically in town.
''Right now we are working on a game plan,'' Vice President of Business Operations Craig Bommer said last week. ''There will be a lot more marketing from billboards, to TV commercials, to radio. Across the board we're looking to improve everything.
''We're going to meet (this) week to develop our strategy.''
While he didn't have particulars, Bommer did say the club is going to make a spirited effort in areas that maybe it hasn't been particularly prominent in the past. Places like Cambridge, Zanesville and Steubenville in Ohio, as well as Wetzel County in West Virginia and Washington, Pa.
''We're getting a good response out of Wetzel County which is an area we probably neglected because of the distance and population. We're getting a lot of notice from that area and ticket information is being sent there,'' he said. ''We're going to hit that area, and we're definitely going to hit the Washington, Pa., area very hard.
''With all the gas companies putting their headquarters at Southpointe, we've got to be there.
''We basically drew a circle on a map and said this is where we're going.''
Bommer said the group will not overlook its home base, though.
''We understand that we have to stay with Wheeling and advertise, but for the most part they know about us,'' he said. ''We need the areas where they think it's too far to drive, when really it's only 30 minutes.
''That's where we're going to be working on.''
Bommer said fans and non-fans alike will be seeing a lot of the team's moto: ''We're All In. Are You?''
''I met with the rotary and a lot of people asked me what 'all in' means,'' he said. ''Basically it means WAHA stepped up. RED stepped up. They're all in on this and now we need the rest of the community, and the whole valley to be honest with you, to be all in.''
Ticket sales are beginning to pick up, but Bommer said that where he has really seen an impressive increase is in corporate dollars. That, he said, is undoubtedly due to having a local ownership group.
''When you walk into a guy's office and basically look to just renew him and he says 'I'm going to spend more because of the local ownership,' it shows the benefit,'' Bommer said. ''RED knows a lot of people and they've helped a lot of people get their footprint in Ohio County, Marshall County and Wetzel County.
''So they can pick up a phone up and get me appointments, something that former owners Rob and Jim Brooks didn't have the resources to do.
''They just didn't know the right people. With WAHA and Tim (Roberts), obviously he knows a lot of people with his business.
''As a matter of fact, that's what's been keeping me so busy - is getting to people when I need to get to them.''