RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Roughriders president Gregg Fornario announced Monday that the team will no longer play arena football in Richmond.
The team announced Monday that is relocating to Wheeling, West Virginia to play at WesBanco Arena, also home to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ farm team, the Wheeling Nailers.
“It was a total honor to play in Richmond and for the best fans in Arena Football”, Fornario said in a release posted on the team’s newly-designed website. “We have to do what’s right for the organization and our football team and with no viable options available to us permanently or temporarily in the Richmond Area we had to look elsewhere to a place that would best suit our franchise.”
Back in July, Fornario told 8News that he feared a relocation was imminent amid the city’s plans to demolish and replace the Richmond Coliseum.
Fornario explained that his organization did not wish to leave the River City, but with the Coliseum serving as the only facility in the area that can accommodate the needs and amenities necessary for arena football.
“[It’s] the Coliseum or nothing in Richmond,” Fornario said in July.
The team will now re-brand itself as the West Virginia Roughriders and play its home games at the newly-renovated WesBanco Arena, located on the shores of the Ohio River in downtown Wheeling West Virginia.
“We are not only bringing arena football back to the city of Wheeling, but as the hub of Northwestern West Virginia, we are bringing arena football back to an entire region of fans and families to provide them with fast-paced and affordable entertainment and a team that they can really be proud of and call their own,” Jesse Heninger, Director of Operations and Marketing, said.
Fornario said winning over the hearts of the team’s new hometown fans will be just as important as winning championships — something the Roughriders have accomplished twice in the past three seasons.
“We are incredibly happy and excited to call Wheeling home,” Fornario added. “We searched high and low when looking for a new home for our franchise and simply could not see our team and organization anywhere else after visiting with the management over at WesBanco Arena and getting to know the area and how excited people were to have arena football back again.
“We not only will be an entertainment option for the area but also a helping hand in the community as our players will visit schools, create environmental cleanup campaigns, support local fairs and government city rejuvenation projects.”