With the saga of Elmira and the FHL coming down to the wire, the news broke this afternoon from Andy Malnoske of 18 Sports, the NBC-affiliate in Elmira, that the city and owner Robbie Nichols have reached a deal to put a FHL team in the First Arena this fall.
***BREAKING*** Heard from @PioneersPGCBL owner, Robbie Nichols, the IDA and Nichols have agreed in principal to finalize a deal to bring @thefhl hockey back to First Arena in 2018-19. More tonight on 18 Sports. pic.twitter.com/OqQIRT9T9Y
— Andy Malnoske (@18SportsAndy) July 11, 2018
Obviously, this is a HUGE get for the FHL and for the city of Elmira.
For the FHL, it is BY FAR the most legit hockey market and arena they have secured in their 8-plus years of existence, it gives them a HUGE credibility boost, and possibly opens the doors to future expansion out east or in the nearby region.
For Elmira, it’s a big win for hockey fans in the city who went without a team last season after the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL folded following the 2016-17 season, leaving the arena to sit empty, so it’s also a big win for First Arena to have a permanent tenant to use the ice, rather than just youth hockey and men’s league.
Nichols is the perfect guy for ownership in Elmira, as previously noted in the tweet above, he owns the Elmira Pioneers of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, and one wonders with just three month until the start of the FHL season, if he will rollover much of that staff to get hockey sales for sponsorship and tickets rolling.
No word on any specifics of the deal yet, but one has to assume it includes some of the needed repairs that the rink is rumored to have needed, including ice-making capabilities, boards, and roof issues.
There has also been no news on what a potential team name might be, but one thing is nearly certain, it likely won’t be Jackals, with that nickname still currently owned by the ECHL.
We’ll have more thoughts and reactions to the news once we find out more details, but for now, rejoice FHL fans and hockey fans in Elmira!