Three years of unpaid property taxes has led to more than $123,000 owed by the owner of the First Arena in Elmira. The arena is now in the process of foreclosure and is soon to be turned over to Chemung County. Our Bill Mich spoke with the county executive about what comes next for the home of the Jackals.
ELMIRA, N.Y. -- When asked about the situation regarding the First Arena, Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli was straightforward.
"The future of hockey is in question."
Southern Tier Economic Development owns the home of the Jackals, but the team owner, Mostafa Afr, signed a lease in which he agreed to pay property taxes and utilities. For the past three years, no taxes have been paid and the building is now in foreclosure. A judge will soon sign the building over to the county, and then by law, STED, the owner of the arena, will have until February 29th to pay more than $123,000, along with a 10 percent penalty or lose the facility altogether.
"A lot of money was put into this facility and it is unfortunate they didn't honor their commitments. So, you know, I think really, what's going to happen from here on in remains to be seen, but I think it is going to be somewhat complicated," Santulli said.
There is not much that can be done until the February 29th date passes, so the county executive did not want to speculate on what would come of the arena or the Jackals. But he did say the county has zero interest in taking over the arena itself.
"I know the league wants to get through the season and I believe they will be willing to help us get through the season, but as I said, and I'll say it one more time, we don't have the resources, we don't have the staff. We're not going to get into the arena business," the county executive said.
But the county could ultimately become an arena realtor if three years of unpaid taxes aren't settled by the end of February.