First Arena Saga Continues

First Arena Saga Continues
Elmira (WENY) -- In yet another twist to the First Arena saga, the future owners are now asking the bankruptcy judge for more protection. Tom Freeman and Elm Arena LLC want to keep the former operators from using the rink and selling equipment.

A U.S. bankruptcy court judge in Rochester will hear arguments next week over whether or not the former operator of First Arena -- Elmira Downtown Arena, known as EDA -- could lose its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Future owners -- Tom Freeman, Elm Arena LLC -- have something else to say. Freeman wants the arena kept in the best possible condition for hockey season, so he's going to ask the judge to order EDA to not use the arena or sell anything inside it.

"The point of our motion is that if we're not going to be given possession of the building until the end of the bankruptcy, then we just want to make sure that all the equipment is being properly serviced and maintained," said Freeman.

Freeman is worried the upkeep of the arena -- specifically the multi-million dollar ice system -- will go under if a motion is not made in court to protect it. There are legally filed liens on the building, so if EDA tries to take or break anything inside, it would be a civil matter, but turns to criminal if a judge rules in Freeman's favor next week.

"We also need what they call adequate protection," said Freeman. "Which means at the very least, EDA must make payments on the note, interest payments, because even in bankruptcy, it's not exactly fair to have the building and have full use of it and pay nothing."

Southern Tier Economic Development -- the current owner of the arena -- shares the same vision as Freeman.

"What we're concerned about are all of these delaying tactics that are holding the team, the season and fans hostage," said Southern Tier Economic Development's Kevin Keeley. "That's a real concern to us because on October 12th, we want to drop the puck and get on with a great season."

STED and Elm Arena LLC leaders say the question is not whether the Jackals will play this season -- they will -- the real question is who will operate the facility.