Just as we thought the saga surrounding the First Arena may be over, the former operator of the facility filed for bankruptcy Thursday in Rochester. Our Bill Mich tells us what this means for the new owner of the arena and if it will have any impact on the Jackals.
CHEMUNG COUNTY, N.Y. -- First there was a foreclosure earlier this year, then litigation and finally last month, First Arena got a new owner. But things are not settled just yet as the facility's former operator, Elmira Downtown Arena LLC, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday. That is holding up the process of transferring ownership of the arena from Southern Tier Economic Development to its new owner, Tom Freeman.
"In order to complete the transaction with STED, there had to be, it's probably no different than a household foreclosure, you have to get the previous tenant formally removed from the facility," said the arena's new owner, Tom Freeman.
The owner of that previous tenant, Elmira Downtown Arena, is Dr. Mostafa Afr. Court documents show EDA is in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt with creditors such as the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and the City of Elmira. The bankruptcy has slowed down the eviction process of EDA and the transfer of ownership. Dr. Afr also owns the Jackals, but as of now, the team is not in jeopardy.
"The team did not declare bankruptcy. It was only the arena entity that Afr owned that declared the bankruptcy. So, as far as we know, the entity that owns the team, M-Team, is still viable and solvent and will continue on," said Freeman.
The ownership transfer will take place eventually and the Jackals still appear on course to play their upcoming season. As for the future of the team...
"As far as we know, Dr. Afr plans to continue to own the team. We've seen nothing to indicate otherwise. We haven't had much in the way of successful negotiations in terms of if he wants to sell it or not," said Freeman.
It appeared the end of the First Arena story was behind us, but these new developments could prolong the tale for a little while longer.