Chemung County Executive reacts to First Arena turmoil
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) is seeking to terminate its lease with Mammoth Sports and Entertainment (MSE) LLC. Chemung County Executive Christopher Moss said his main concern is the tax dollars being spent, because MSE has outstanding bills which total over $200,000.
"All the IDA Board is asking for and all I’m asking for is abide by the conditions of the lease, regardless of whether you’re making money or not making money," said Moss.
Moss previously served as the chairperson for the Chemung County IDA Governance Committee, but recently stepped down because of a conflict of interest between his Chemung County Executive position and the Governance Committee.
He said with MSE owing so much money, it falls on local companies that end up taking the loss.
"I don’t speak on behalf of the Chemung IDA, but I do send the IDA correspondences when I feel there’s an issue that’s going to affect taxpayers, and when the IDA is asking for funds from the county, which are taxpayer funds, to support the arena," said Moss.
He mentioned another concern was that MSE couldn't provide the financial statements regarding spending. Moss added, "When you ask for receipts to look at what was done, if there was nothing to hide, you’d file your financials as your lease said. I'd like to see the financials. The IDA Board couldn’t submit those to me because he hadn’t provided them to them."
Moss began voicing concerns with both the IDA and Mammoth Sports starting in January of 2022, which is less than three months after MSE signed its lease with the IDA.
Moss said Mammoth Sports received hundreds of thousands of dollars to make improvements inside First Arena.
"I saw the condition the arena was left in when he took over (and) at the end of the day, did a lot of things need to be done? Yes, they did. Did he do some of it? Yes, he did some of it," said Moss.
In response to Mammoth Sports President Steve Donner's outline of inherited issues with the facility, Moss said if Donner can't provide the data as to why there's such a loss in profit, then there's nothing the IDA or Chemung County can do.
"There’s a lot of discussion to be had. It's unfortunate we’re in this situation again, but you know what? We'll make the best of it and move on," said Moss.
When asked about what could be done to possibly make the Arena successful, Moss said there wouldn't be an easy answer. He added, "We have a population of 80,000 people, and we can’t get 1,000 people in the seat a night for hockey games and so forth. I think it’s time to reevaluate what you can use the arena for."
Mammoth CEO and President Steve Donner issued a response after the IDA announced it was seeking to terminate the lease with MSE, less than two years into its five-year term.
In the letter, Donner outlines the lease negotiation process, the condition of First Arena when MSE received access, missing and damaged equipment, ongoing utility issues that haven't been repaired, and allegations that the Chemung County IDA shared confidential information with sponsors, the media, and others.
To read Donner's letter and learn about the details behind his concerns, click here.