The City of Elmira has turned down a proposal to fund upgrades to First Arena, home of the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals.
Under a proposal that was submitted by Chemung County, the city would contribute some funds to cover upgrades at First Arena. The county has been involved in trying to sell the venue to a private investor, as it is currently in the hands of the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). In January, officials revealed that a potential buyer had emerged, but that some repairs at the arena had to be addressed if a sale were to be completed.
In its most recent vote on the issue, the city specifically rejected a request to pay for half of an estimated $1.5 million repair to the venue’s ice plant. Elmira officials contend that the city does not have the funds to cover the project, which is leaving the IDA with some concerns about the arena’s future. More from the Star Gazette:
“We don’t have the money,” said Michael Collins, Elmira city manager. “We don’t want to see the arena close in any shape or form,” he said, but the city simply has no cash cushion to assist in funding arena improvements.
Without the city’s financial help, a deal to sell the arena to a third party, clearing a path to continued operations, falls apart, Chemung County officials said.
The county has indicated that it can underwrite the arena’s overhead through the completion of the Jackals’ ECHL season, but not much further than that.
Given the funding request rejection, the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency will have to meet to discuss the future operations of the arena.
“I think the Industrial Development Agency will allow me to preserve the team until the end of the season,” said Michael Krusen, Chemung County IDA chief.
The IDA initially purchased from former owners Tom Freeman and Nate Cook last June, and did so with the intention of eventually flipping it to a private individual or entity.