No doubt WesBanco Arena Executive Director Dennis Magruder has heard an enormous number of ideas for improving the downtown Wheeling facility. And suggestions from the public share space on Magruder's wish list of renovations and repairs he knows are needed, even if they do not seem to be flashy crowd pleasers.
If only he had the money to make some of those improvements, Magruder must have wished more than once.
Well, he may be getting his wish. As we have reported, a change in Wheeling's municipal tax structure is intended, in part, to provide as much as $4 million to repair and upgrade WesBanco Arena.
Some of the money will have to be spent on repairs and preventive maintenance. And city officials have ideas for improvements, including replacing the front of the building.
On April 20, in the Valley Viewpoint feature we publish every Saturday, The Intelligencer asked a few local residents what improvements they would like to see at WesBanco Arena. Their answers were interesting. Two of the five people we questioned mentioned seating at the arena, which is among ideas city officials already are discussing. But there were other recommendations. One woman wanted "some small sit-down dining areas." Another suggested expanded menus, with health food options, at concession stands. Some focused on the types of entertainment acts brought to WesBanco Arena.
Of course, Magruder's improvements and operating budgets are limited. He already brings some excellent entertainers to the arena and the Capitol Theatre.
But the customer is always right, at least to the extent he or she can be accommodated.
In planning to improve WesBanco Arena, then, city officials should seek input from the public. That could provide guidance - perhaps in low-cost operational improvements as well as major facility changes - in maximizing the arena's appeal to local residents.
Four million dollars sounds like a lot of money, but it will not take long to spend it in a building as large and with as many needs for upgrades as WesBanco Arena. Still, getting and, where practical, adopting ideas from the public could maximize the impact of improvements being planned.