An entrepreneur who has effectively turned a struggling Hancock County racetrack into a major entertainment complex, Ted Arneault began his career as a certified public accountant. In 1980 he became president and CEO of Century Well Service, an oil and gas company based near Marietta, Ohio. Through that business he met Mountairneer Race Track owner Bill Blair, who asked Arneault for help in making the venue viable.
After a couple of difficult years, an important pience of legislation helped to create an opportunity to turn the fate of the facility. The West Virginia State Legislature passed the Race Track and Video Lottery Act of 1994, which allowed for video lottery games of chance at racetracks, if a referendum was passed by the local community.
Even with the change in the law, Arneault had his work cut out for him. He created an accounting department, hired a bookkeeper and a marketing manager, and began bold plans to transform an aging racetrack into a diversified entertainment facility. The first phase was the creation of a Chicago-style “speakeasy” in 1995.
Marketing efforts included creation of a 30-minute “infomercial” that ran on television in Cleveland, Athens, Wheeling, Pittsburgh, and Canton. Backed by an ambitious advertising campaign and an investment of over $65 million, Mountaineer grew from a customer list of 7,000 in 1996 to over 180,000 today. A 74,000-foot theater and event center with a setting capacity of 1500 has allowed Mountaineer to bring in big-name entertainers such as Kenny Rogers, Don Rickles and the Smothers Brothers. The park has added 700 acres to its previous 600, and is developing a 250-300 acre golf course, a spa, conference center, and a 200-room hotel with an indoor swimming pool and two new restaurants.
During Arneault’s tenure at the helm of the resort, earnings have soared from a $5 million operating loss in 1995 to being listed in Fortune magazine’s “100 Fastest Growing Companies in America” in 1999 and 2000. Racetrack purses have grown from $18,000 per day to $120,000 per day.
Born in Cohoes, NYm, Arneault grew up in Worthington, Ohio. He played football at Bowling Green University and today serves as a member of the board of directors for the West Virginia Travel and Tourism program