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New First Arena Owner Unlikely Before Season

Elmira Jackals

Efforts to find a new owner for First Arena have come up short, making it unlikely that control of the arena will change in time for the Elmira Jackals’ 2016-2017 slate.

To this point, officials in Chemung County have not been able to find an owner to take over the venue from the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). Earlier this year, the IDA was tasked with taking over ownership of First Arena from Tom Freeman and Nathan Cook.

Initially the hope had been that the IDA would only need to control the arena on a temporary basis, before a private entity purchased the venue. The process, however, has taken longer than expected, meaning that the IDA will continue to own the arena for the time being.

The expectation from local officials, including county executive Tom Santulli, is that the Jackals should be able to make it through the transition period at First Arena. More from the Star Gazette:

“Our goal is to get the arena in the hands of someone who knows how to manage an arena, knows hockey and has contacts with the NHL,” Santulli said. “We have people interested. We’re 80 days away from opening the season. There’s not much chance there will be new operators by then. We’ll have contact with someone to manage the arena and get it open for the season.”

Jackals President and current arena co-owner Nate Cook is still running the team and will probably continue to do so for the short term, Santulli said. Cook and co-owner Tom Freeman have committed about $400,000 toward maintaining operations during the transition period, he said.

Between that money, funds the IDA has put aside and revenue the arena will generate, it should be enough to carry operations through the hockey season while negotiations take place, Santulli said.

It’s also possible one of the prospects could come on board to manage the arena with an eye toward purchasing the facility and team, he said.

Per an agreement reached on Tuesday, the IDA could have more jurisdiction over the sale of the arena, which Santulli said the county hopes will take place during the hockey season.

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