ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – 18 Sports brings you continuing coverage of First Arena’s tenant negotiations.
The current deal between tenant Robbie Nichols’ CAN-USA group, and owners The Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA), expires in just eight days on July 15. On Tuesday, CCIDA director Joe Roman told 18 Sports that he would be willing to meet with Nichols with all information on the table.
In response, Nichols tells 18 Sports that he is ready to sit down with The IDA like gentleman to negotiate a new deal for First Arena. Without a new deal, the Elmira Enforcers would not be able to play hockey in the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL), the Elmira Junior Enforcers, youth leagues, etc. would also be in serious jeopardy. A deal that has an impact on thousands of people in the region.
Nichols says he’s been asking for a meeting for over two years and he would love the opportunity to finally to meet with Roman and The IDA.
“I’ve asked for a meeting for approximately two and a half years, to sit-down and figure everything out,” Nichols said Wednesday. “July 15th is coming really quick.”
Nichols, who signed a three-year deal in 2018 with The IDA to serve as the tenant, believes they deserve a fair opportunity to negotiate after pouring up to $200,000 of his own money into the venue. Money that he says is still owed to him in the initial agreement for capital improvements to First Arena. On top of CAN-USA’s $125 monthly rent, they are responsible for paying all other expenses related to routine maintenance and keeping First Arena operable.
Expenses that turn into thousands of dollars per month according to Nichols.
“We put a lot of money and effort and time into the arena. (We) brought the arena back to life and after three years, especially a COVID year, where we paid a lot of the bills to keep the arena running,” Nichols added.
“We definitely think we deserve to sit down and meet with the CCIDA.”
Now, the question is when? With just about a week left in the current deal, many are wondering why business can’t be completed in good faith and push egos aside for the betterment of the community. With both sides telling WETM-TV they are both willing to meet, the future of First Arena is pending on a meeting which must happen soon.
Additionally, WETM-TV was also in contact with a person instrumental in making the initial deal happen in 2018. That person, choosing to remain anonymous, says The IDA has two legitimate choices. Negotiate a deal for CAN-USA to continue to thrive or allow the place (First Arena) to go dark.
In July 2017, then Chemung County Executive, Tom Santulli, said The IDA assuming ownership of First Arena was a temporary solution. The county and IDA would not be in the arena business. Then, the county needed someone like Nichols and CAN-USA to not only bring it back to life, but to operate it to see it succeed on the future tenant/owner’s own merit.
18 Sports will continue to follow this story as it develops. Make sure to take a look at our previous stories from this past week on the First Arena negotiations which have brought us to this point below.