Elmira’s First Arena might receive a new professional hockey club, as officials are considering a proposal for a Federal Hockey League team at the venue.
Current owner of baseball’s Elmira Pioneers (summer collegiate; Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League) and former First Arena general manager Robbie Nichols is in discussions with the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency. In the proposal that is being considered, Nichols would assume management of the IDA-owned First Arena and place a Federal Hockey League team at the facility.
The agreement has not been finalized, but officials sound hopeful that the plan can move forward. More from the Star-Gazette:
Southern Tier Economic Growth President Mike Krusen said the IDA would prefer to be able to sell the arena outright, but this is the next best thing.
“I’m fairly confident we’re in a position to move forward. It’s not the step we hoped for to move it to private ownership right away,” Krusen said. “That’s not in the cards right now. But that still is the IDA’s hope. In the meantime, they will play hockey again, get interest in the place again, and perhaps work out a deal with Elmira College at some point.
“A lot needs to be done with the arena itself. It still need capital improvements to attract private owners,” he said. “The numbers just don’t work. You need a huge investment. Hopefully in the next week or so, we’ll have a formalized lease and management agreement.”
First Arena has been without professional hockey since the departure of the Elmira Jackals (ECHL), who folded operations following the 2016-17 season. The facility has dealt with financial issues over the years and the IDA was in discussions last year about selling it to a private owner, but an agreement to do so fell through.