ELMIRA, NY (WENY) - Chemung County’s IDA signed an agreement last month handing over First Arena operations to Mammoth Sports & Entertainment, LLC.  

The new tenants have hit the ground running in cleaning up First Arena, with ice already on the rink. The tenants have spent the last month cleaning out unused materials while repairing technical aspects of the building. President of Mammoth Sports & Entertainment, Steve Donner, can’t wait to bring attractions back to Elmira. 

“We could put on a game tomorrow technically,” Donner said. “All of our video, audio, outdoor marquee, our ice plant, all functioning quite well.” 

The agreement between the IDA and Mammoth Sports & Entertainment LLC includes a 5-year lease that requires Donner to pay one dollar a year in rent for the facility. Mammoth will put in a combined $500,000 into the Capital Improvement Fund, which invests back into the arena’s repairs. The investment in to the Capital fund includes a $100,000 contribution beginning in year two, $125,000 per year for years three and four, and $150,000 in year five.  

First Arena also plans to impose a facility fee on ticket sales that go back into the Improvement Fund, ranging from .50 cents from season tickets, to $1 for sporting events and $2 for other singular events. Donner must also provide 15 hours of public skating time per week, and hopes to offer a new home to Elmira College’s hockey teams. 

Donner has a vision for First Arena’s revival. He plans to upgrade First Arena through a number of facility renovations. 

“We're hoping when fans can come in, they're going to see some new paint, some new technology, and probably some new monitors as well,” Donner said. “New floors, new color schemes, hopefully, it will look brand new.” 

Cleaning up First Arena has been no easy task for Donner and his fellow tenants. He said a collaborative effort was required to save the facility. 

“We knew number one, for this to be successful, a team of people and companies would really have to work together to make this happen,” Donner said. “So far, we're off to a tremendous start, and nothing we've seen so far gives us any pause; it gives us a lot of excitement as to how this is going to end up.” 

The lease also includes a provision that effectively bars former operator and Elmira Enforcers owner, Robbie Nichols, from working with Donner or having a relationship with the facility in the future. Without naming Nichols specifically, the lease agreement spells out that Donner’s organization must have no material affiliation with the prior ownership or leadership of any professional hockey team that previously played home games at First Arena.  

First Arena will hold its first open rink of the winter season Sunday, December 26th in the afternoon from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.