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SIZING UP THE FINANCIAL SITUATION IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Published November 5, 1996
The four pro teams in South Florida and their inability to "turn a profit" are profiled by Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD in a piece entitled, "Winning Teams, Losing Bottom Lines." Panthers/Marlins/Dolphins Owner Wayne Huizenga: "Sports is different from other businesses. It's a unusual thing. When you're in other businesses people expect you to operate a profitably. But in sports, people perceive it as a negative when a team makes money. There is a double standard. If I had to do it all over again as far as going into sports, that would be a real tough decision. But now, that we are in sports, we will stay in it. ... In hindsight, it might be better off not getting into it." Huizenga notes with the Panthers, "we know it will turn around with the new arena. The Marlins are the ones we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel." The MIAMI HERALD examined the financial status of each South FL team. MARLINS: The Marlins had total revenue of $53M and a net loss of $17M. For the team, financial "woes have everything to do with attendance." Season tickets have dropped to 12,500 this season after 20,000 in '93. Huizenga said he would consider selling the team if the Marlins win and still have trouble drawing fans. Huizenga: "Nobody would buy this team in the condition we're in, unless there's a change in attendance or a new venue." DOLPHINS: The Dolphins had $65M in total revenues, mostly from network TV deals and ticket sales. But the team had a $45M payroll and $20M in expenses to "merely break even." Dolphins management say they expect to make a profit, but "wouldn't project how much they plan to make." PANTHERS: The Panthers earned $30M in total revenue with a net loss of $11M. They lose money annually as their lease at Miami Arena is "among the worst in sports." They paid $849,982 in rent in '95, while the Heat paid $219,031. The Panthers receive no skybox revenue and earned "just" $5M in national and local TV/radio revenue in '95. HEAT: Heat Owner Micky Arison said the team broke even in '95 with a payroll around $2M less than '96. Although more than 90% of season-ticket holders have renewed for this season, "new sales have lagged." Arison: "Even with a new arena, breaking even is the best we can hope for for a long time" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/3).