ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — After a turbulent year battling with lease agreements, First Arena is celebrating the grand-reopening Friday night. The rink in the heart of Elmira is prepping for the first college game of the year.
Thursday was an all-hands-on-deck day with final preparations for the Hobart versus Elmira College hockey game. This matchup is the first college game to be held in the main arena after it was leased by Mammoth Sports and Entertainment, LLC in 2021. It is a hockey-filled weekend with the Junior Enforcers playing games Saturday and Sunday.
“Coming in we had our goals and objectives and to have this game be the first one is really extra special for us,” Steve Donner, president of Mammoth Sports and Entertainment, LLC, told 18 News.
After signing the lease in November, Donner and his team got to work, replacing and fixing several parts of the arena. From the floors to the walls, the arena will be ready for fans.
“Something as simple as we’ve had to replace 150 lamps and lights in the concourses that were burned out or old. Every bathroom will have new faucets,” Donner added. ” We’ve had super clean at the local company come in and literally steam clean every square foot of this building by Friday.”
Donner expects a decently sized crowd at their inaugural game and says students are coming out to support their fellow Soaring Eagles. He believes ticket sales will eclipse 2,000, making it the largest crowd size of the season for Elmira College. For the team, they are excited to have fans from their campus join them at the game and to play in downtown Elmira again.
“It’s exciting for our student body being able to walk down to the game even in the winter,” Head Coach Aaron Saul said.
As for the next steps for the facility, Donner says the suites will be revamped with a restaurant on the second floor. Their next big project will be a downstairs restaurant, which will be open to the public and feature Western New York food.
In the spring, the new owners look forward to bringing other events and concerts back to the arena including a pro wrestling event and two concerts.
Tenant Mammoth Sports and Entertainment LLC. was formed on Nov. 29, six days after the lease between the IDA and tenant Steve Donner was signed. The arena was originally set to be owned by another corporation owned by Donner called Tadross Donner Sports and Entertainment LLC.
Michael Tadross Jr., a Hollywood producer who worked as Assistant Director on the 2007 “I Am Legend”, was a partner in the original LLC.
Uses for the arena laid out in the least include concerts, conventions, family shows, soccer, lacrosse, bull riding, hockey, wrestling, ultimate fighting/and/or mixed martial arts. Other events can be held with written consent from the IDA.
Donner also says he is in talks to bring either lacrosse or soccer to Elmira, both of which he has ties with as a co-founder of the National Lacrosse League and with both Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League.