Local Business Spotlight: The Elmira First Arena

Photo of the outside of the First Arena in Elmira, NY

The Elmira First Arena opened in Elmira, New York in 2000 under the name, Coach USA Center. The name was changed to the First Arena just four years later. 

There’s no doubt that this facility has seen some major changes through the years. First, it was home to the Elmira Jackals hockey team. In 2018, it became home to the Elmira Enforcers hockey team, but that partnership abruptly ended in 2021. 

Elmira Enforcers logo

Throughout the years, the First Arena was a source of entertainment for Chemung County and beyond. The facility drew in crowds from all over New York State and Pennsylvania. When the county announced it was considering demolishing the building, we all hoped for a resolution. A $1.2 million demolition bid came in, and Elmirans held their breath. 

Tadross Donner Sports and Entertainment, LLC

In late 2021, Chemung County IDA reached a 5-year lease agreement with Tadross Donner Sports and Entertainment, LLC. According to WENY, the new vision for the First Arena involves turning it into a sports and entertainment facility that includes the return of local hockey to our area. 

Since making that announcement, the vision has taken form to include so much more. 

Steve Donner of TDSE agreed to talk with our CEO, Nicole Colwell, about what’s in store for the First Arena. He says the future is bright! 

Looking ahead 12 months, Steve says we’ll see the return of professional hockey in October 2022 with 30 home games. TDSE will also be announcing a secondary sports team too, although he’s not clear if it will be lacrosse or indoor soccer. Either way, that will add another 10 dates of sports events beginning in 2022-2023. 

First Arena hosted an Elmira College hockey game as a test in January 2022, which drew a nice crowd. Steve hopes to see 4-6 Elmira College men’s and women’s hockey games next season.

TDSE also just announced an agreement with Hart Legacy Wrestling, the highest level of Canadian pro wrestling, for 12 events, one per month, which will be starting in March. Steve says there will be a whole storyline built around these events that will engage and entertain attendees. 

More contracts are in the works. They’re currently negotiating around 12 contracts for concerts and comedy acts, and Steve hopes concerts will begin this April. He anticipates 60-70 events within the next 12 months. The goal for year 2 is more than 100 events. 

The First Arena intends to host events of all sizes; not just sellouts. Some events may draw 800-1000 people, and others may only bring in 200. Steve has no problem with that. He says the Arena is focused on becoming a regional entertainment center and as they build success, he believes other organizations will want to build with them. 

Steve has family in the local area, and he is committed to the Elmira community. He moved here in the first week of December and says it’s now his permanent residence. 

When asked what message he would like to give to the people of Elmira about the First Arena, Steve said, “The First Arena is a brighter, cleaner facility than it was when we took it over. It’s going to be an active community asset that we hope everyone will be proud of.” 

Keep an eye on the First Arena website and Facebook page for information on all upcoming events! 

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