RoughRiders bring in thousands of new fans to Wheeling


When a new team comes to town, it’s assumed that surrounding business will benefit from fans attending games.

The West Virginia RoughRiders have been bringing in more than 2,000 fans per game, which has provided a jolt to the economy in Downtown Wheeling. But the fans at these games aren’t just from the Ohio Valley. They come from far and wide. 

“I’ve come to watch the North Carolina team play the West Virginia team,” said Jeannie Young of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. “And this is the catcher…I was born in West Virginia. I’ve been gone for 30 years, so I’m kind of coming home and my son’s first arena football team is playing for the first time in West Virginia.”

With thousands of people cheering on the RoughRiders each time they take the field, game days provide a boost for local businesses like Pickles Eatery and Bar. But for that establishment in particular, there is a deeper connection with the team.

“With the food sponsorship, we feed them and that is an expensive sponsorship to take on,” said Pickles’ owner Bobby Rys. “But you know, these guys drive business into this town. There were 3,500 people at the last game and likely to be around that this game. What’s good for Wheeling is good for me for sure and for everybody.”

Then there are the average fans who aren’t related to players and don’t have a business affiliation with the RoughRiders. Tony Campbell is just happy to have a professional football team nearby. 

“It brings people together,” said Campbell. “You have a lot of businesses downtown. Transactions are made. It’s just good for the whole Ohio Valley.”

The RoughRiders have four regular season home games remaining. If you are interested in attending their next home game, the RoughRiders will be hosting the New England Bobcats at 7 p.m. on Friday April 26.

For tickets and other information, visit their website.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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