Iconic musician Willie Nelson will help roll out the red the carpet this September when the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling reopens for events.
The Sept. 24 show will feature Nelson, along with his son Lukas Nelson, and will be the first show at the theater following ongoing renovations. The $1.2 million project includes new seating and carpeting, new curtains and wall coverings and upgraded handicap access.
Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Frank O'Brien said the celebration of the upgrades to the historic theater needed an equally historic performer.
"He's an icon, and this theater is also iconic," he said. "This is a great way to show off our upgrades."
While the Sept. 24 deadline is still two months away, there is much to be done between now the the time the curtain rises. O'Brien said all of the old seats have been removed, and sanding to remove old bolts and repair the floor surface has begun. The new seats and carpet on both floors of the venue will be installed in the coming weeks.
"The timeline is pretty close," he said. "We're going to be working hard to make sure the theater is ready before then."
The theater has been closed since an appearance by comedian Ron White on June 14. The new seats are being paid for through a $450,000 donation from the Chris Hess Foundation. Another anonymous donor has agreed to contribute $200,000 as long as the CVB can match the amount.
O'Brien said officials are also working hard to raise the money for that match and will unveil a campaign in the coming months that will allow donors to put their names on a seat in the venue.
The CVB, a private nonprofit organization funded entirely from hotel/motel tax revenue collected in Ohio County, spends $22,555.41 monthly to pay off the $1.4 million debt the organization still owes for buying and repairing the Capitol. The bureau should be able to pay off the theater by 2019 or earlier, according to the current schedule.