Investigation: Who is the new operator of First Arena?

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – In a surprise meeting, the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency announced it’s reached an agreement on a new lease for First Arena.

The new building operator is Tadross Donner Sports and Entertainment, LLC. The IDA didn’t release any more information other than the name, and said neither party will issue a comment until a press conference on December 1.

A Google search of the company name comes up completely blank. However, an 18 News Investigation revealed Rochester native Steve Donner is a Sports Business Consultant and former president, CEO and owner of several sports teams.

Donner confirmed with 18 News that he is one of the principals of TDSE, LLC. He said the company was created specifically for the purposes of the lease agreement for First Arena. He added, “We have other interests in other companies and could not co-mingle those interests.”

We have put together a team with the arena and Rec Arena as our sole focus, which is good for the community.

Steve Donner

Donner, reportedly now based out of Florida, was previously the President, CEO and owner of the hockey team the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, President and CEO of the Rochester Americans, as well as the President of the Daytona International Skateway. He was also a key part of bringing the Buffalo Bandits to the Queen City and was the Marketing and Sales Director for the Buffalo Sabres from 1983 to 1992.

Donner also said that Michael Tadross Jr., a Hollywood producer who worked as Assistant Director on the 2007 “I Am Legend”, is the partner in the LLC.

In a biography provided by Donner, Tadross is president of his production company, Tadross Media Group. He’s been a part of films, unscripted series, and documentaries since 2013, including Rob Reiner’s 2016 film “LBJ”.

Tadross was born in Brooklyn and grew up around the film scene because his father was also a producer. He attended Wagner College.

According to the NY Post, Tadross’ company, Canbe Properties LLC, stiffed a former business partner out of $1.25 million in 2015 after it didn’t pay the promised amount for shares in tattoo supply businesses.

In response, Tadross’ company filed its own lawsuit against the business partner for fraud, claiming it misrepresented the value of the three companies.

Donner said their company was organized to be “solely focused on the operation and marketing of First Arena and its sports tenants.” However, he said there are still a lot of processes happening “behind the scenes”, so he was unable to comment further.

IDA Executive Director Joe Roman said the deal “brings new life into the arena” for hockey, sports and entertainment by looking at “all the potential” the facility has. Tadross and Donner “bring a great deal of expertise, a great deal of knowledge and a great deal of experience” to the arena as an entertainment venue, Roman said.

Roman added that hockey will be returning to Elmira.

18 News has also reached out to a Forensic Accountant to look further into the company.

The Tuesday meeting came as a surprise announcement. The IDA had not given prior notice to the meeting, as required by the New York State “Open Meetings Law”, which says that any meeting that is scheduled at least one week in advance must be publicly announced at least three days prior, and any other meetings must be publicly announced “at a reasonable time prior”.

Roman said a clerical error was to blame for the lack of notice given for the meeting.

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