Despite a recent setback in their effort to sell the venue, Chemung County officials are expressing some optimism that First Arena will remain open.
The City of Elmira recently confirmed that it would not participate in funding improvements to First Arena, the home of the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. Under a proposal from the county, upgrades to the arena’s ice plant would have been split by the city and county, helping to facilitate the sale of First Arena to a private investor.
On Monday, Chemung County officials and the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA)–which owns the venue–said that the sale of the arena could still proceed. While Elmira’s decision to reject the funding request left some concerns doubts about the effort to sell a venue, recent conversation have given IDA executive director Michael Krusen hope that First Arena could still be sold. More from the Star Gazette:
But following discussions over the past few days, officials are optimistic — if not totally certain — First Arena will be able to stay open with a new owner, Krusen said Monday.
“I’m optimistic it will stay open, but I’m also cautious. Nothing is done until it is signed,” he said. “I think if we’re able to execute on the deal, we think there’s a way to structure this that we can move ahead without city participation, although certainly, we would continue to welcome that.”
Details of the possible new deal remain under discussion, but Krusen said it would improve the balance in what has typically been a lopsided public-private partnership.
“It’s always been a public-private partnership, but the larger P has always been the public side of this,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think it’ll be a much better operation than we’ve had in 17 years.”
Officials stressed that no deal is complete at this point.