Wheeling almost waved goodbye to its hometown Nailers at the end of the 2012 season. The previous owners put the team up for sale, and while the outlook was bleak for a while; it was the local community that came through. The fans showed up regularly and a combination of local groups got together to make sure the Nailers stayed exactly where they should be. The local community has literally and figuratively taken ownership of this team and it shows through the local flavor throughout the arena.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The best place to start and end at the concession stands come from local vendors. There is an abundance of great pizza in the Wheeling area, and the best comes from DiCarlo's Pizza. Now there are several DiCarlo's in the area, and while the best one is certainly not at the arena, it is the best food you can get in WesBanco Arena.
After this comes Kirk's ice cream, which is made in St. Clairsville, Ohio. There are several flavors available, but the Chocolate Peanut Butter comes highly recommended because of its big chunks of peanut butter.
There is also a restaurant available in the arena. The great thing about the sit down restaurant is that the players will walk through the restaurant on their way to the ice to start the game. It's really great to be that close to the team right before the puck drops.
After the local flare, everything else is really just average, with average prices. Standard items such as popcorn ($2.50), hot dogs ($3), nachos ($4) and bottled pop ($3) are available. There are some other unique items such as Italian sausages, BBQ Pork Sandwiches and funnel cakes. These snacks are great if you're between meals, but pretty much just average if you're really looking to make a dent in your stomach.
Pride is something that is evident at a Nailer game. That being said, most games are usually only partially full until the playoffs roll around. With these two facts in mind, the atmosphere lands right in that average range. You'll see many of the same fans there every game, yelling and screaming in the same manner whether it's a game in December or March. The staff is extremely friendly and as I heard a couple fans describe "they try really hard." A Nailer game is great because you can go to scream your lungs out in support of the team or just sit back and relax; you'll fit in either way.
There have been a few recent additions and renovations to WesBanco Arena that have helped the atmosphere. In previous years, the arena felt a little like you were sitting in an outdated concrete block. Added for the 2012-2013 season are new flat screen TV's in the concourse above the concession stands so you don't miss a minute of the game, two big screens on either end of the ice where ads and replays are shown and a fresh coat of paint on walls around the arena.
The Nailers adopted the colors of their NHL affiliate Pittsburgh Penguins for 2012-2013 as well, so the new paint coincides with the new colors. These additions make you feel as though you are truly at a top-level professional hockey game. The building is still old, so the outdated part may still be somewhat accurate, but the renovations make the building a cozier place, to say the least.
WesBanco Arena is located in downtown Wheeling. Wheeling is an aging city and downtown has seen better days. However, within walking distance is Wheeling's famed DiCarlo's Pizza. There are several DiCarlo's in the area, and each is made a little differently. There are a couple more restaurants in the area, but nothing to write home about.
Since Wheeling is such a small town, there are a couple more areas that are within a short travel time to go to before or after a game. St. Clairsville, Ohio and The Highlands are two places that have several chain restaurants and bars for any before or after shenanigans.
For some more local flavor though, go to the Ye Olde Alfa in the Woodsdale area of Wheeling. It's located in a residential part of town, but it will work for either dinner before the game or for some after game drinks. The local casino and greyhound track is also just across the suspension bridge that is close to the arena; it can provide an entire evening of food, fun and entertainment.
The fans are a good mix of really devoted season ticket holders and in-town and out-of-town fans that can't make it to see the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center for one reason or another. The fans are very knowledgeable about their team, which is really to be commended considering the ever changing minor league rosters.
There is one very engaged fan that can keep everyone entertained; you won't miss him next to the visitors' penalty box. The gentleman goes by the name "Nailer Man" and will be dressed in a full body suit. Nailer Man torments the opposition when a player receives a penalty, and does it in a pretty fun way.
Other than Nailer Man, the fans themselves don't get incredibly loud, but are for the most part engaged nonetheless. The fans do have a chant towards the opposing goalie when a Nailers goal is scored that is a little bit of a turn-off because of what is said. If that could be fixed, there would be absolutely nothing to nit-pick at. Overall, the fans make this a nice relaxing atmosphere to take in a professional hockey game. I think that is a really interesting adjective because normally a hockey game and the word relaxing don't go together.
Wheeling is a pretty small town, so getting in and out of the parking lots and garages should not be an issue. Parking will cost between $2 and $5 depending on how close you want to get to the arena. It will be easier to get in and out of the surface lots that offer parking, as opposed to the garage that is right next to the arena, so that could be one time saver. Try to avoid the road that leads right past the arena as it can get bogged down with fans and cars. There are a lot of one way street around the arena, including Main Street, so just be sure to pay attention.
Since the arena rarely fills up past half or three-quarters full, most of the time the concourses of the arena are pretty roomy. The bathrooms are a little bit on the small side, especially the women's bathroom judging by the lines.
Tickets range from $15-$20 depending on where you want to sit; and since this is such a small arena, any seat is a good seat. If you're looking to see a hockey game from right on the glass, you can't beat the $20 price. Often, hockey is best seen from altitude so that you can see the plays develop, and again for this reason, any seat is great considering the size of the arena. While a devoted hockey fan may notice the drop off in speed from the NHL game, the game and overall atmosphere make for a great night out.
The price in tickets and food may be a tad high considering the lower level of hockey, but considering the team was almost relocated from Wheeling; everyone should understand the price levels. This is a heck of a deal for someone that can't make it to an NHL game. The Wheeling Nailers have the ability to keep you entertained both on and off the ice.
To start, an extra star should go to the community and fans for keeping the team in Wheeling. There aren't many things that can be as disheartening for a community as losing a professional team; that is certainly near the top of the list. The second point is for the added bonus of the players walking through the arena restaurant before the game starts. This is an easy way to get the fans ready to go for the game. Finally the new improvements really gave a nice face lift to the arena, so this definitely deserves an extra star.
The Nailers really put a scare through its fans at the end of the 2012 season. Everyone was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the local community truly came through. The Wheeling Nailers will show off the local flavor and you might get the added bonus of seeing a future Pittsburgh Penguins skater.
WesBanco Arena is the home of the Wheeling Nailers, a member of the ECHL. The arena was opened in 1976 and seats around 5,000. It was a fun fan experience but don't expect the luxuries that you see in the more modern arenas.
Wheeling is a small town in northern West Virginia with not even 30,000 residents. Built in 1976 WesBanco Arena is one of the premier facilities in the state of West Virginia. WesBanco Arena (formerly the Wheeling Civic Center) is the main arena for current tenant Wheeling Nailers and previously several minor league indoor football teams.
Food & Beverage
WesBanco Arena doesn't feature anything fancy. The concession stands basically have would anyone would expect coming to a minor league hockey game. One thing that diffidently brings it up to a 3 is that the pizza is from a nearby restaurant called Dicarlos which is very popular in the Wheeling Metro Area.
WesBanco Arena boasts the loudest goal horn in North American professional hockey. Fans blow vuvuzelas very loudly and it excites the crowd. Nailers fans have a chant that boosts excitement after every Wheeling goal: He shoots, he scores, and goalie you suck. The Subway Chuck a Puck contest held in the second intermission raises the fun when spectators get to throw pucks on the ice in hopes of getting the bulls eye. If you completely cover the quarter in the middle you walk out with $1,000 cold hard cash. If not, who ever is closest wins a prize. Over the summer of 2011 new lights were installed and they light the event better than anywhere else I have seen. The PA announcer also betters the atmosphere considering he is professional grade, not just good enough for minor league sports.
The arena is located in downtown. Although downtown Wheeling doesn't seem to be thriving it still has many small businesses, many you can not find outside of Wheeling. Due to the location of downtown you can get to just about any where else in the city in under 15 minutes.
Wheeling fans generally knowledgeable about the game. Most know the finer points of hockey such as slashing, hooking, icing, etc. The fans are very passionate and when the refs make a bad call, they can hear it. Fans have certainly gotten more into the game considering the Nailers' good finish in the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Downtown is close to all areas of the city and is about 1 mile from Ohio and 15 miles from Pennsylvania. You can get from your seat to the interstate in about ten minutes depending on where you park. Although there are a few stairs in the concourse anyone who has trouble with them or is physically impaired there is an elevator to the seating level.
Return on Investment
For $14 its pretty tough to beat. Even better is that for kids seat anywhere it is just $6. When the ECHL says they have provided affordable family entertainment for over 20 years, Wheeling is a prime example.
Frosty Fridays with $1 beers every Friday home game is a nice feature for those fan 21 and older. Also in the main concourse there are plaques of famous Wheeling natives and local sports stars.
1400 Main St
Wheeling, WV 26003
1311 Main St
Wheeling, WV 26003
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