Brooks: Search for new owner will intensify

There wasn’t much to smile about in the Friendly City.

At least not with regards to Wheeling’s status as host of a professional sports franchise.

Nailers’ co-owner Jim Brooks wears his heart on his sleeve. Always has during a nine-season tenure in that capacity.

Some gathered for Thursday afternoon’s press conference inside WesBanco Arena’s Health Plan Pavilion may have misconstrued Brooks’ emotions as ‘staged.’ They would be wrong.

Brooks choked-up on more than one occasion confirming to media members and a dozen or so fans in attendance the owners’ intent to sell the hockey club.

In a best-case scenario, Brooks intends to meet with unidentified prospects from the tri-state region in an attempt to keep the ECHL franchise viable and operating from within.

As one may assume, there is a worse-case scenario with pro hockey ceasing to exist here following a 20-year tenure.

At its most successful, the then-Thunderbirds’ organization averaged an astounding 5,000 fans per home date during the team’s second season in Wheeling.

Skeptics, and even current fans who have just read the aforementioned data, have likely not comprehended that knowledge with most eager to discover the secret attracting paying customers of those numbers.

Nice guys that they are, Rob and Jim Brooks continually failed to recognize the necessity of using maximum resources to promote their own product.

Particularly in a small market community where it’s virtually imperative to use strategic methods to garner regional support.

It’s been years since the Nailers housed a capable administrative staff possessing adept marketing and public relations skills. The team’s interaction with Ohio Valley media members, once a legitimate lifeblood for the franchise, has long since gone dark.

Ironically, ‘gone dark’ was a sentence being rendered WesBanco during Thursday’s grim revelations.


THE news is significantly better for Wheeling’s parent club, the Penguins, who appear to have regained their footing following some shaky play over a period of three weeks….

WITH the annual OVAC Wrestling Tournament in town this weekend, the Nailers are playing two ‘home’ games at Johnstown, Pa. another historic ECHL franchise forced to cease operations during the past three seasons.

Wheeling has played three games this season in the western Pennsylvania city’s War Memorial Arena and is averaging no better than 1,763 per date. In turn, the Nailers report an average 2,836 have attended 16 games at WesBanco.

Counting this weekend, Wheeling has eight games slated at Johnstown and 10 remaining at WesBanco…..

Gibson may be reached at