Elmira Aviators to debut next season at First Arena

Elmira Aviators to debut next season at First Arena

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A new era is here for Elmira hockey.

Wednesday, the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) announced the newest team who will play at First Arena next season. The Elmira Aviators were revealed as the team for a 60-game schedule starting in September as part of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

The NAHL is a Tier II junior level league made up of highly skilled hockey players ages 16-20. Several players have advanced to play in the NCAA in all divisions and have become pros in the National Hockey League (NHL). A five-year deal was reached between the Chemung County IDA, the owners of First Arena, and the NAHL keeping hockey in Elmira for the foreseeable future.

The move to the NAHL comes after a challenging season with the Elmira River Sharks in the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL). Chemung County IDA Chairman Mark Margeson says the new league is more economically feasible than the FPHL. The River Sharks lasted just one season at First Arena and narrowly missed out on the playoffs.

Average attendance for River Sharks home games was a little over 700 paying fans per contest this past season, a number simply not substantial enough to financially keep the franchise here. Last year, the IDA reached a one-year agreement with the FPHL to bring the River Sharks to First Arena with a reassessment by the IDA in place at the end of the season.

18 Sports spoke with Chemung County IDA Chairman Margeson at the press event Wednesday afternoon. We will have plenty more on the newest hockey franchise in the city which names pays homage to local aviation and flying.

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