SBD/19/Franchises

PANTHERS NOT PURRFORMING FINANCIALLY, HUIZENGA MAY MOVE TEAM

     At a news conference Tuesday, Panthers Owner Wayne Huizenga,
"complaining" about million-dollar losses, said he may have to
move the team.  Huizenga said a decision to relocate would come
in three months unless someone came forward to build an arena in
South Florida.  He said steep prices and other losses could force
him to put the team up for sale.  Huizenga: "I don't know who's
going to buy a team losing a million dollars a month, but if he's
here, step up."  Huizenga's frustrations stem from his failure to
get a new arena in Broward County.  David Neal speculates three
possibilities for the Panthers' future in this morning's MIAMI
HERALD.  The options: Huizenga could get a deal from another
municipality to build an arena; Huizenga and Heat Owner Micky
Arison team up to build a new arena in downtown Miami; Huizenga
sells the team.  Boca Raton businessman Norton Herrick is
mentioned as a possible suitor and would likely move them out of
FL.  Neal writes that Huizenga insinuated that selling the team
to parties interested in moving it is a "last-ditch option"
(MIAMI HERALD, 7/19).
     WHY ARE THINGS SO BAD?  When Huizenga was granted an
expansion franchise by the NHL in '93, it was done "with the
understanding ... that the Panthers would be in a new arena
quickly."  Neal writes that "the quick genesis could have been
the problem" leading to the team's current financial troubles.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the HERALD in June, "With the
benefit of more time, this could've been buttoned down better"
(MIAMI HERALD, 7/19).
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