The future of First Arena will include a new owner, but not the Elmira Jackals, as the ECHL franchise is ceasing operations after this season.
Late last week, Chemung County officials announced that the Chemung County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) had completed its sale of First Arena. The venue will now be owned by Brian Barrett, who will keep the downtown Elmira facility open.
This ended a process that saw the IDA take over the arena last June with the intention of turning it over to private ownership. Officials will now work with Barrett to begin planning the next steps for First Arena, which could include facility upgrades. More from The Leader:
“He wants to step up and be the owner of this facility,” [county executive Tom] Santulli said. “He’s a very driven, hard-working, self-made, successful individual.”
Santulli said Barrett will pay $3.5 million for the facility.
The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency paid off a $2.9 million mortgage on the facility when it took over ownership in June 2016.
Santulli said despite that, the Chemung IDA made the decision that nearly all the purchase price will go into capital improvements at the facility.
“(This facility is not) up to snuff. The ice plant isn’t. Whatever is under the ice may or may not be. The roof has problems. This place is 17 years old,” Santulli said.
The Jackals, however, confirmed that they will not continue to operate beyond the 2016-17 ECHL campaign. On Friday, the club issued a statement revealing that its request for a voluntary suspension of operations had been approved by the league. From the team’s announcement:
The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and the Elmira Jackals have announced today that the Jackals will cease operations at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season.
The team has informed the ECHL of the decision and the league’s Board of Governors has approved the request for Voluntary Suspension of operations at the conclusion of the season.
The Jackals will play out the remainder of their 2016-17 schedule, which includes 10 more home games, before shutting down at the end of the season.
The Elmira Jackals organization would like thank its incredibly loyal fans and sponsors for their support over the past 17 seasons. We are proud of the positive impact the Jackals organization has made on the community during this period.
First Arena will continue to operate and host events after the Jackals season has concluded.
In its announcement of the decision, the ECHL confirmed that it plans to continue with 27 members for the 2017-18 season. That is same the number of clubs that played in the league this season, but with some changes. The Worcester Railers and Jacksonville IceMen have both been confirmed to be joining the league, while the Jackals and the Alaska Aces are both ceasing operations after the 2016-17 campaign.