HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Huntington city officials held the grand opening of a project which has been underway and under construction for several years on Tuesday.

Since early 2019, the Mountain Health Arena has undergone many aesthetic changes, and now the latest addition to the Jewel City’s collection of landmarks is the arena’s new outdoor plaza.

The Mountain Health Arena inaugurated the completion of its third phase of improvements with a splash!

“We’re almost finished! We still have some little pieces to do, but this is a transformation not just of the downtown, this is symbolic,” said Mayor Steve Williams of Huntington, West Virginia, “They saw this as just concrete, and dated. If anybody says that we can’t move ourselves into the next 50 years, all they have to do is look around.” 

The new plaza features a fountain for kids and families to enjoy, an outdoor enclosed event space, a large shade structure for concerts and outdoor picnics, new canopies and signage over the ticket office and convention center, a screen wall crafted locally, and a larger-than-life sculpture called ‘Continuous Ascent’ by the late John Paul Rietta.

“It’s just something that just invites individuals to the area,” Williams said.

Local officials say they’re optimistic about the economic growth a landmark like this could bring to the area.

“All of those things are about economic development because when those people come to town, they rent this facility, then the guests are out in the community shopping, eating, staying at the hotels, so it’s one of those win-win situations for everybody,” said Tyson Compton, president of the Huntington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Local businesses seem to have a similar positive outlook.

“Anytime that there’s an event close by it always brings in a ton of business, and it’s really awesome to meet all of the people that the arena will bring in,” says Neely Seams, front-of-house manager for Butter It Up!

“This is just inviting individuals to come to Huntington, enjoy yourselves, and we’ll just lay the front mat out for ya!” Williams said.

The next phase of this big renovation project will focus on upgrading the inside of the arena.