ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – If you bought tickets for the only event listed on First Arena’s calendar, arena management said you’ll be refunded. The band manager and arena manager gave slightly different reasons, but the owner of the Elmira Mammoth hockey team confirmed he would be leaving the arena after an eviction notice from the IDA.
On May 26, 2023, Mammoth Sports CEO Steve Donner posted on Facebook that Mammoth would honor the lease termination served by the Chemung County IDA earlier this month. In his statement, Donner claimed the Chemung County IDA complicated the lease agreement from the very beginning in late 2021.
The statement also said that Donner and Mammoth have talked with the FPHL commissioner to give their “blessing for the league to try to broker a deal to keep professional hockey alive at the arena whether it be continuing the Mammoth franchise or with a replacement team.”
A June 28, 2023 concert of The Players Formerly of Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire is the only event listed on First Arena’s calendar. As of 10:00 a.m. on May 26, 2023, tickets were still for sale through Tickets.com.
However, band manager Kim Reilly told WETM on May 25 that she had been unable to get in touch with Mammoth owner Steve Donner for weeks.
“He only paid us a 25% booking fee, and I’ve been trying to contact him for weeks to make sure the show is happening,” Reilly explained. “We have already rerouted our show so the [Elmira] show isn’t happening.”
Later that night, Donner confirmed the band cancelled the concert but explained it did so “due to the negative publicity created by the IDA announcement”. Donner continued to say only four tickets were sold for the concert, and he was working with Ticket.com to ensure refunds would be sent to anyone who bought one. Images from the event listing on Tickets.com on May 26 showed that a total of 21 tickets had been sold.
On May 25, before Donner’s response, Reilly said she’d love to be able to play in Elmira at some future date.
“I don’t know why they’re still selling tickets,” Reilly said. “We want to come to play in Elmira, but since Mr. Donner won’t return our calls, we have been forced to reroute the show.”
Earlier in May, the Chemung County IDA confirmed Donner had been given an eviction notice. Donner, in response, said the County breached the contract by neglecting HVAC equipment and called out the IDA in surprise at its decision to “publically leak a lease dispute.” However, letters from County Executive Chris Moss claimed that Mammoth was hundreds of thousands of dollars behind on utility payments.
In Donner’s statement, he said the reasons for not fighting the termination of the dollar-per-year lease was because the IDA delayed signing the original lease in 2021, Mammoth found “substantially inoperable” conditions in much of the arena when it moved in, and because the IDA ignored HVAC repairs at the venue. He also claimed that Mammoth was going to get a new business partner and influx of money weeks before the eviction notice and made the IDA aware; however, he said the IDA ignored this, as well.
Mammoth Sports an Entertainment was created in November 2021 when its dollar-per-year lease was announced at First Arena.