Mark your calendars football fans, the indoor game is returning to the Ohio Valley.
In March 2009, an new ownership group will debut its brand of football at WesBanco Arena.
Dave Bender, company spokesman and one of three owners of the Elmira Football Holdings Company, plans to reveal much more in April and the months to follow about just what he and his partners have in store for Ohio Valley football fans.
A native of the South Hills area of Pittsburgh, Bender originally wished to start a franchise in Elmira, N.Y., But when the opportunity presented itself to bring a team back to Wheeling, he couldn’t pass it up.
‘‘We were set on Elmira,’’ Bender said. ‘‘It has a gorgeous arena, but Wheeling just plays better into our favor.
‘‘Being down here, we’re able to be more hands on.’’
Bender and his partners have done their homework. A two-year planning period has led Elmira Football Holdings to this point, and Bender told The Intelligencer he already has a coach in mind and a tentative agreement worked out with WesBanco Arena Executive Director Denny Magruder.
He also knows the league in which the team will be competing, but in effort to save that league’s commissioner an overflow of questions so early in its season, he’s keeping that part a secret for the time being.
That being said, Bender needs your help.
‘‘I want to run a contest to name the team,’’ Bender said. ‘‘This is a brand new franchise, we want to honor the tradition of the Ohio Valley Greyhounds, but we are not them.
‘‘So that name is obviously out.’’
Details of the contest will be announced at a later date.
Ohio Valley will not be used as a place name and Bender said there are legal issues surrounding the nickname of Ironmen, so that is out as well. The team will be the Wheeling somethings.
Bender plans on having the team logo designed for a news conference, and will unveil all the remaining details surrounding the new Wheeling franchise in April.
He also revealed that the contest winner will be named and given the honors of being a guest referee and handle the coin toss on opening night. A free t-shirt or two may be in order as well, officials said.
Bender wanted to reiterate that his company has put countless hours of research and thought into not only the team itself, but in choosing to return to Wheeling.
He’s prepared to offer fans an exciting brand of football, as well as incorporating the added extras that fans enjoy and have come to expect from minor league sports.