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HUIZENGA AIMS TO GIVE THE PEOPLE WANT THEY WANT
Published June 4, 1996
Panther Owner Wayne Huizenga said yesterday he is close to issuing a public offering of just under 50% of the team, according to Larry Lebowitz of the FT. LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL. Many details remain, but the announcement comes on one of the biggest days in franchise history. The team opens the Stanley Cup Finals this evening in Denver, and Broward County Commissioners are expected to approve final agreements to build a new $212M arena. Plans to sell majority control to Dallas businessman John Spano were "scuttled" after Huizenga's wife and friends convinced him to keep the team in local hands. It appears Huizenga and associates will maintain control of at least 50.1%, and Huizenga hinted that Panther shares "may be available only to season-ticket holders or some other limited group of potential investors." The offering would need approval from the NHL and the SEC (FT. LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL, 6/4). BACKGROUND: Huizenga's office said neither of his other teams, the Marlins or Dolphins, would be part of the offering. Huizenga and NHL officials "are in discussions to determine whether he would keep" 51% or 50% to comply with league ownership rules. The N.Y. POST's Paul Tharp notes Huizenga could be "in conflict" with other pro leagues (N.Y. POST, 6/4). Huizenga said he hopes the stock will get off the ground "sometime in the next couple of months" ("Sports View," CNBC, 6/3). Huizenga appeared on CNN's "Moneyline" wearing a large rat lapel pin. Huizenga, on the key to the Panthers' success: "People. Only in America. Except in this case, it's only in America with mostly Canadian players and a few Czechoslovakian players and only two or three American players. It's management all the way" (CNN, 6/3). A team source estimated the initial price of the stock would be "in the $10 to $30 range" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/4). TAKING STOCK: Huizenga: "You buy these stocks because you love the sport or want to be part of owning a team in your local community." Sports consultant Marty Blackman: "It's more of a vanity stock than a business" (N.Y. POST, 6/4). USA TODAY's Daniel Kadlec on the timing of the announcement: "It's called seizing opportunity and nobody does it better than Huizenga. ... [But] pro sports teams tend to make lackluster stocks" (USA TODAY, 6/4).