First Arena update – when will hockey return?

February 04 2022 08:00 am

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – It’s been a long wait for Elmira hockey fans.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new tenant, and with no season to start the year at First Arena Elmira hockey fans are hopeful for a fast return. Two weeks ago the owners of the arena, the Chemung County Industrial Developmental Agency (CCIDA), introduced a new tenant, Tadross Donner Sports & Entertainment LLC. The group announced the return of hockey either this season or the beginning of next year in the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL).

Steve Donner, who has ties to the Twin Tiers and is a former owner of the Rochester Amerks American Hockey League (AHL) team, stated the group is looking to bring an FPHL team back to Elmira. The FPHL is the same league the Elmira Enforcers played in for three seasons before they were abruptly put on hold after former lease holder CAN-USA and Robbie Nichols’ deal with the CCIDA expired last summer. Donner and CAN-USA have been negotiating for the rights of the franchise and also the player rights that go along with the team.

As of Tuesday night, no FPHL deal has been finalized with Tadross Donner Sports and CAN-USA. 18 Sports spoke with FPHL Commissioner, Don Kirnan, who believes time will certainly tell Elmira hockey fans what to expect. Nothing is set in stone yet for hockey’s immediate return to First Arena.

“They wanted to get something started, it’s been a tremendous undertaking,” Kirnan said. The FPHL offices are located in Syracuse and Kirnan is hopeful for Elmira to get a team again.

“We’re in New York, basically, we’re gonna bend over backwards for a New York team. We’re gonna help them in any way,” Kirnan added.

The FPHL season has started and six of the seven teams in the league already have played fourteen games this year. Kirnan believes a deal can be done but all parties involved need to be on the same page moving forward. And, most of all, First Arena must be ready and prepared for game competition again after sitting dormant since last summer.

“We want to hear what their (negotiation) progress is so far. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Kirnan said. “I’m only a couple of hours away (in Syracuse), I might stop down and take a look.”

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