THE WHEELING Nailers' existence in the Ohio Valley is no longer on thin ice.
The local professional hockey's team future has been hanging in the balance for the past two months after owners -- Jim and Rob Brooks -- announced their intention to put the franchise, which has called Wheeling home for 20 years, up for sale.
The Brooks brothers' decision triggered an avalanche of uncertainty and concern throughout the area. Nailers' fans, local businesses and the general public were worried that we may be losing a cherished possession.
The search for a potential buyer took on an added sense of urgency after the East Coast Hockey League imposed several "drop-dead" dates for the sale to come to fruition, be it locally based or not.
With the window of opportunity for a sale to take place closing, a deal was reached at the 11th hour. The purchase agreement was embraced throughout the Ohio Valley, as it ensures the Nailers stay right where they belong -- in WesBanco Arena.
The Regional Economic Development partnership (RED) and the Wheeling Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA) have joined forces to take over the ownership of the team. With those two entities in control, all questions on the team's venue have been answered.
Now the focus shifts to the team's on-ice performance and its ability to attract fans. In both instances things are going well.
The Nailers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals a year ago and are primed for another playoff berth this season. The success has spawned increased activity at the box office as the team is averaging more than 3,000 fans per home date.
We commend RED and WAHA for stepping up and keeping the Nailers in Wheeling. Now we challenge the team's fanbase to continue their passionate support in order for the franchise to experience smooth skating.