WHEELING - Patrons of Wheeling's Capitol Theatre may not see their names in lights but they can have their names permanently displayed in the theater.
Members of the public have the opportunity to have their names on seats at the Capitol Theatre as the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau announced "Your Seat in the Spotlight" fundraising campaign during a news conference this morning.
"You can be a part of Wheeling history, Capitol Theatre history for just $250," CVB Executive Director Frank O'Brien said as he walked the softly lit aisles. "This is part of our first effort to go to the general public. We have 2,200 seats available at $250 each. That includes your name engraved on a brass plate and displayed on the arm of the seat with up to three lines of 25 characters each."
Stephanie Hitchman, left, Larry Bandi, Bob Hitchman and Frank O’Brien display the new seats at Wheeling’s Capitol Theatre.
O'Brien said the fundraising effort follows the recent major upgrades to the theater which included purchasing a new projector, the new seats, new curtain, wall treatment, repainting and more.
Altogether he said the upgrades cost about $1.1 million. In order to complete all restoration work done at once, O'Brien said the bureau received a loan from a local bank which they are working to pay off.
"If we sell 2,200 seats at $250, that's a lot of money," O'Brien said. He said the donation does not include admission of any kind. He said it is a chance for residents to leave a legacy behind with the theatre for generations to come.
Seats are sold on a strictly first-come, first-served basis, O'Brien said. He said plates will be engraved and placed by the 100 as donations come in. Those interested are encouraged to contact the Wheeling CVB as soon as possible.
"What a jewel for Wheeling," Bob Hitchman, Hampton Inn Wheeling owner, said as he joined O'Brien on Monday.
The theater was selected to receive the Hilton Worldwide Travel with Purpose Action Grant for $5,000 as another form of aid for the theater's restoration project, matched by Bob and his wife Stephanie Hitchman. Local businessman/entrepreneur Gary West matched that $10,000 with another $10,000 of his own for a total of $20,000 in assistance for the Capitol Theatre.
"Gary and (his wife) Flip West were trying to stimulate other corporate interest in the project," Hitchman said. "We hope other corporations will take that up and continue the good work."
"We are very grateful and pleased to see these entities working together for the good of this historic landmark and our community," O'Brien said.
To learn more about the project or to reserve a seat, call O'Brien at 304-233-7709.