ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – First Arena in downtown Elmira will soon be empty once again, according to the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency, which says it is working to end the lease with Mammoth Sports & Entertainment, LLC.
The IDA provided the following statement to WETM on May 16, 2023, saying it’s working to end the $1-per-year lease early and that Mammoth Sports (owner of the Elmira Mammoth hockey team) has been made aware.
The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency is in the process of effectuating the termination of its lease agreement with Mammoth Sports & Entertainment LLC. A notice of termination of lease agreement has been provided to Mammoth Sports & Entertainment LLC.Chemung County Industrial Development Agency
In response to the news, Donner told WETM that he was surprised the IDA would “publically leak a lease dispute”, saying this was a legal matter. He also said he believes Chemung County “is in significant breach of the lease on their end” for what he called “delinquent maintenance of HVAC equipment.”
Donner added that it’s his intention to have Mammoth’s attorneys work out a settlement with the IDA and stay in Elmira.
The IDA didn’t provide specific details on the circumstances surrounding the sudden termination. However, a letter to the IDA from Chemung County Executive Chris Moss dated March 2023 said that Mammoth Sports hadn’t paid at least $230,000 in utility charges and that there were nearly $25,000 outstanding charges for security at the arena.
One letter says that the security agency was reportedly under the impression that the county would help pay those charges; however, according to Moss, the lease for First Arena doesn’t say the county will pay operational costs.
The letter says that the county was made aware of the financial problems last fall. Moss also asked the IDA to crack down on holding Mammoth Sports to its contract, including reviewing the Arena Capital Improvement Funds balance and requiring quarterly and annual reports from the Arena. A letter from October 2022 also said that American Rescue Plan money pledged for the arena would be withheld until the IDA addressed the financial problems.
This comes a year and a half after Donner and his newly-formed sports and entertainment company moved into the arena in November 2021, paying $1 per year for rent and promising to revitalize the downtown fixture that’s less than 25 years old. In April 2022, Donner unveiled the Elmira Mammoth as the new hockey team taking to the ice as part of the FPHL.
Before signing the lease, the arena hadn’t been used since the last season of the Elmira Enforcers in 2021, before the county took over the building. A July 2021 meeting of the IDA showed that there were high costs to repair damage and infrastructure in the building; there were also discussions about possibly tearing down the arena.
In January 2023, less than a year after it was created, the Professional Pro Box Lacrosse Association, commissioned by Donner, announced it would be postponing the rest of the 2023 season. Players said it was because of financial reasons, and Donner said the main source of funding has been discontinued. The PBLA was created in June 2022.