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Prospective First Arena Owner Still Searching for Team

Elmira Jackals

The search continues for a new hockey tenant for First Arena continues, not only to fill a void in the city’s hockey scene but to complete a sale of the venue. 

In March, there were some significant developments for First Arena. After spending considerable time searching for a new owner, the Chemung County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) announced that it had reached an agreement to sell First Arena to Brian Barrett for $3.5 million. Meanwhile, the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals revealed their intention to suspend operations after the 2016-17 season.

The Jackals played their final game last month, and the sale of the arena is still pending, as it is contingent upon Barrett finding a new hockey team for the venue. In the meantime, the IDA continues to own the arena and cover its expenses. While the agency is hoping that the sale can be finalized sooner rather than later, IDA executive director Mike Krusen is expressing confidence in Barrett’s effort. More from the Star Gazette:

Barrett continues to work on finding a new team, Krusen said. The ECHL — the Jackals’ former league — released its 2017-18 schedule earlier this week, appearing to leave that option out of the running.

The proposed new owner is “exploring different options, leagues, teams to see what fits best and works best, to put together a business plan to move forward. I’m confident he’s moving forward,” Krusen said. “As of right now, we’re really just trying to keep our head above water for a few months while Brian has an opportunity to flesh out a team.”

The IDA spent $434,502 on First Arena expenses in 2016, including repairs, maintenance and utilities, in addition to the facility’s $3,443,709 purchase price, according to the agency’s annual financial statement.

Krusen estimates the agency will spend around the same amount in 2017, despite minimal expenditures over the past few weeks. He expects operating costs incurred this year will be made up largely, although not entirely, by revenues from IDA projects in 2017.

The Jackals were a long-time tenant of First Arena, playing their first game in the arena in 2000, when they were still members of the United Hockey League.

RELATED STORIES: First Arena Sold, Elmira Jackals to Fold

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