UPDATE: FHL in Elmira: “Hockey Belongs Here”


UPDATE: Robbie Nichols meeting with Chemung County IDA goes “extremely well” with hockey decision looming. 

On Wednesday night, 18 Sports spoke with potential Elmira hockey owner, Robbie Nichols, on the progress of negotiations with the Chemung County IDA on bringing a Federal Hockey League (FHL) team to Elmira. Nichols said the meeting went very well with the owners of First Arena, the IDA, on a proposal to have Nichols bring a team to the city and operate First Arena.

Next, a decision will likely be made in the coming days with attorneys evaluating the future of hockey at First Arena. More with 18 Sports as it develops. 

EARLY WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Elmira Pioneers owner, Robbie Nichols, will meet with Chemung County IDA’s Mike Krusen  today at 3 PM.

The two sides, according to Nichols, are “much closer” to striking a deal that would bring hockey back to First Arena for the first time since April 2017. The Elmira Jackals played their final ECHL game at First Arena well over a year ago after 18 years in the city. 

The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) holds current ownership of First Arena and is hoping to work out a deal with Nichols after making a formal offer on Tuesday. The offer would enable Nichols to run and operate a hockey team and First Arena itself. 

Nichols met with his attorney, Alan Charlap, Wednesday to review the offer from the IDA. Nichols owns the rights to start a Federal Hockey League (FHL) franchise and believes First Arena is the ideal spot. 

Nichols added that First Arena has not been properly maintained since the departure of the Jackals last April and does not want to assume costs that were previously incurred.

The potential FHL team, which does not have a team name, coach, staff or players, would not be affiliated with an NHL franchise. The FHL, which consists of seven teams in the league, is slated to release their schedule next week.

Stay with 18 Sports for more developments.

ORIGINAL STORY Monday 6/25: Elmira Pioneers owner Robbie Nichols is working on a potential deal to bring hockey back to Elmira.

Nichols, who has a long history with hockey, is currently in negotiations with the owners of First Arena, the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency, better known as the IDA. Nichols owns the rights to start a Federal Hockey League (FHL) franchise and he’s targeting Elmira’s First Arena as the site for a new team. 

The last professional hockey team in First Arena, the Elmira Jackals, folded in April 2017 after 18 years in the city of Elmira. The franchise played in the Untied Hockey League (UHL) and East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL). Now, after over a year without hockey in the city, Nichols believes that the time is now to bring action back to the ice.

“People know I’m a hockey guy,” Nichols said. “I was was a pro hockey player, pro hockey coach and that’s why I ended up here in Elmira was because of the Jackals and hockey belongs here.”

Nichols added that the Elmira region is an ideal site for an FHL team.

“The fans deserve it. The support of the community, the sponsors, this community deserves to have a hockey team here in Elmira.”

Last July, Nichols declined the IDA’s first proposal of bringing an FHL team to Elmira due to their money numbers being far apart on paper. This time around, negotiations could face an even bigger issue for hockey next season. The FHL league schedule is slated to be released next week, so time is very limited to finalize the deal. 

In a text message from Nichols, he stated that he had not received an official offer from the IDA by the end of the business day on Monday. Stick with 18 Sports on the next moves to bring hockey back to Elmira’s First Arena.    

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