Elmira’s hockey team, the Jackals, were terminated in April, and left $350 thousand in debt in their final season.
The Chemung County Legislature will vote Monday night on whether the county should be responsible for paying off the debt.
“We’ve had ups and downs with the Arena and Jackals, certainly we’ve had successful years with the Jackals,” Mike Krusen, President of the Southern Tier Economic Growth, said.
However, the last few years the Jackals played, attendance at the First Arena went down.
A community board known as the Twin Tiers Economic Development took the team over as a community team.
The T.T.E.D. was forced to suspend the team’s operations due to their increase in debt, according to Krusen.
The organization is now requesting that the county legislature approve a county tax to pay off the debts.
“It would be a room tax, and that is used for tourism types of activities in the community,” Krusen said. He also said it has gone towards the team previously.
The T.T.E.D. is asking for $450 thousand dollars.
“These creditors provided a service, and they have outstanding bills that need to be paid,” Krusen said.
Krusen said that one of the benefits of paying the tax is that local vendors will be paid. He says if the local vendors are not paid there could be consequences.
“We believe the First Arena is still an asset,” Krusen said. “We still have a strong youth hockey program there, we still hold community events there. With a lot of local vendors not being paid, what will their enthusiasm and participation be moving forward?”
Krusen also said the T.T.E.D. is unable to provide the funds. Thus, if the tax is not approved by the Chemung County Legislature, than they will have to treat it like a bankruptcy and vendors will not be paid.
Joe Brennan, a Chemung County legislature, said it was unfortunate that the local vendors could possibly not get paid, but it is a risk in business that is not the community’s responsibility to pay.
“No county funds should go towards a “community team” unless other towns like Big Flats and Horseheads volunteer to pay too, a plan I don’t think will pass,” Brennan said.