Whelan, who joined the club in their promotion-winning 2007-08 campaign, feels the signing of Owen is indicative of the great progress made under Tony Pulis.
The Republic of Ireland international said: "It is massive. The manager said when we first came in it was a building process each year and each year we have found that.
"Obviously the club has pushed on - new training ground, signing big players.
"Hopefully the fans are grateful for that and will keep coming and cheering us on but it is up to us to give them something to cheer about.
"It is a great club to be around at the minute because there is a big buzz."