The Wheeling Nailers of the East Coast Hockey League are for sale and it will likely take a local ownership group to step forward in order to save the team.
Current Wheeling Nailers owners Jim and Rob Brooks say they are willing to sell the team at a loss in order to keep the franchise running. If a group doesn’t step forward soon, however, the team could cease operations at the end of the season.
Jim Brooks, during a news conference Wednesday in Wheeling, said the brothers have until "sometime in March" for a new ownership group to step forward and to be taken to the league’s Board of Governors for consideration. Brooks emphasized that the deal doesn’t have to be completed by that time.
The Brooks brothers paid $1.2 million dollars to buy the Nailers nine years ago. Jim Brooks said the sale price would be considerably less, more in the "mid-six figures" range.
The Brooks brothers also own the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League and they are in the process of building a new arena for that team. Jim Brooks said the focus needs to be placed on that franchise and getting the new building up. That’s why they are selling the Wheeling team.
Jim Brooks said he has had discussions with a couple of potential owners but said it’s too early to gauge how serious they are. It’s possible that the parent Pittsburgh Penguins could have an increased role in the team and in keeping it in Wheeling.