The future of First Arena has been in question since the beginning of the year when Chemung County foreclosed on the property. But as our Bill Mich tells us, it appears things have finally settled down because Tuesday it was announced the facility has a new owner and operator.
CHEMUNG COUNTY, N.Y. -- Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said from the beginning that the county was not getting into the arena business. Tuesday, he kept his word.
"Our foreclosure process has ceased. That ended officially, I believe, today. We are no longer pursuing that at all. All of the litigation is gone and we have a new owner," said Santulli.
That new owner and operator of the First Arena is Elmira businessman Tom Freeman. On Tuesday, Freeman promised the facility will be cleaned up and upgraded by investing new money into the building. He also made a commitment that was a first in the history of the arena.
"There is an awful lot of property that is not taxed as it should be, in my opinion, and I just wanted to lead with this and say that one of the landmark buildings in downtown Elmira, first and foremost, is going on the tax rolls," said Freeman.
As far as Jackals, Freeman said he is in talks with Dr. Afr, the team's owner, about how he wants to handle the team. Whether Afr wants to work out an arrangement to continue to play in Elmira or sell the team. Freeman said he himself has expressed interest in buying the Jackals. The ultimate goal is keeping pro hockey at First Arena. And both Freeman and Santulli said they want to get more use out of the arena. Whether that is community events like car shows and concerts or having Elmira College play their hockey games there are well, something the county executive says is being discussed with the college.
"To have the college not be a player, I think is a mistake. And if they can just play some of their games there initially, you start it out and then let it grow from there," said Santulli.
A seemingly bright future for what began as a very bleak situation.