First Arena gets new lease, avoiding demolition concerns

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – In a Tuesday morning meeting, the Chemung County IDA approved a new lease for First Arena.

The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency approved a lease with Tadross Donner Sports and Entertainment, LLC. TDSE will operate First Arena effective immediately.

In the announcement, the IDA said they’ve reached an agreement “on a vision for the arena to transition to a multi-event arena featuring sports, concerts, comedy acts, family shows, and community events.”

The IDA will hold a press conference with TDSE at First Arena on December 1 at 1 p.m. to introduce its management team. TDSE is expected to lay out a timeline of re-opening the arena and plans to bring back professional hockey as well as other sports and entertainment to the area.

The IDA and TDSE will not issue any further comments until the Dec. 1 press conference.

This agreement comes just months after it was announced that First Arena was found to be in “satisfactory condition”, according to a report on repair costs from Hunt Engineers Facilities Assessment performed for the IDA.

The future of the arena was thrown into doubt over the summer when it was revealed that the IDA was considering demolishing the arena due to potential repair costs upward of $8 million. The CCIDA, which owns the arena, and Robbie Nichols, owner of the Elmira Enforcers, could not come to terms on a lease agreement, leading to the IDA taking “functional control” of the building.

In July, the IDA hired Hunt Engineers to conduct a full facilities assessment on the building. A preliminary report found “several challenges that need to be addressed by the board” and that “some of the issues may impede the sale or lease of the facility.”

According to the Hunt Engineers Facilities Assessment performed for the IDA, First Arena was found to be in “satisfactory condition with minimal items that could be considered critical in nature.”

The report continues to say that the “sum total of all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and Health & Safety items needing repair is less than $500,000 raw construction cost.”

However, if the IDA were to agree to the entire list of repairs in the facilities assessment as listed with no other bids, the price with adjustments to inflation and incidental costs would be over $8 million.

Since the July announcement of considerations of demolition, the IDA has since received a $1.2 million bid to demolish the arena, but has not finalized any plans to do so.

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