ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Elmira Enforcers made a major announcement Saturday regarding their immediate hockey future.
Team owner, Robbie Nichols, tells 18 Sports that the Enforcers will not be playing in 2021-22 and will disperse. The rights of Enforcers players will continue to be claimed by Elmira, members of the roster will now be allocated to a special draft by the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL).
“It’s a sad day for us, all of our families, and the entire community,” Enforcers owner Robbie Nichols said.
“For all of the hard work that everyone has done, for our fans (everyone), it’s sad,” added Nichols.
Season ticket holders who already paid for the upcoming Enforcers year will have their money fully reimbursed. Money can be claimed starting on Tuesday by calling (607) 734-2690.
This decision comes after the owners of First Arena, the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), presented their findings in a special meeting on Thursday on the future of the venue. In the meeting, The IDA stated that they would need potentially $6 to 8 million dollars to repair First Arena. Another potential option would be to entertain tearing down the facility.
The assessed potential value of First Arena is $2.5 million dollars, according to the Chemung County property tax records.
The decision also comes amid the FPHL needing to fulfill their upcoming schedule as soon as possible. Something Nichols says couldn’t be done after having no meetings with The IDA or the county.
“The IDA won’t return a call to potentially negotiate about our lease or purchase,” Nichols said.
Nichols’ ownership group, CAN-USA, was the previous tenant at First Arena for the past three years. Their deal expired on July 16 after The IDA stated they would keep all options on the table to meet with everyone interested as future tenants, including CAN-USA. To this day, still no meeting has taken place.
Nichols and CAN-USA revitalized First Arena, a venue that’s crucial to the future revitalization of downtown Elmira. In three years, the Enforcers made the league championship series and led the FPHL in overall attendance (minus COVID year with limited attendance).
The team was also instrumental in several community events in the Twin Tiers. Food drives, youth hockey nights, school speaking events, haircuts for the homeless, toy drives on the holidays and more.
CAN-USA according to Nichols, is still owed up to $200,000 for capital improvements to First Arena based off their last deal. Nichols says that no money has been repaid.
This is a developing news story, stick with 18 Sports for more details as they become available.