SBD/Issue 221/Franchises

NHL Panthers Sale Closer, But Work Remains Before Deal Official

SPAC Reportedly Not Looking
To Move Panthers After Acquisition
While the sale of the NHL Panthers to Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. (SPAC) is “closer to consummation,” there remains “considerable ground to be covered before the transaction becomes official,” according to Allan Muir of SI.com. But if “all goes well, the sale is on track to be finalized” before the start of the season. SPAC “isn’t looking to move” the Panthers, which is “good news for fans who were hearing their team’s name mentioned as a possible target for relocation.” Current Owner Alan Cohen is “expected to simply exchange his stake in the team for shares in SPAC,” meaning the man who has “presided over a reign of lunacy almost unmatched in the league could yet remain the hand on the rudder under the new ownership.” However, there is a “good chance that the consortium could install another leader, possibly Andrew Murstein, one of the group’s founders.” Muir: “Nothing beats a single, well-funded, passionate owner ... but as far as options go, this SPAC thing might just work out.” If SPAC officials want to “keep their shareholders happy, all they have to do is keep their customers happy.” And for the customers to be happy, the team “needs to get better fast” (SI.com, 8/4).

IN THE LOCKER ROOM: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay notes the Panthers have unveiled a new season-ticket offer called the “Panthers Locker Room.” It includes season tickets in the lower bowl at BankAtlantic Center for $35 a game -- down from $50 last season -- and “personal attention from players.” The 1,100 seats are being “divided into segments that will be named for five to seven Panthers players, who will hold autograph sessions and skating clinics for fans in their areas.” Those seat holders “will also get their section namesake’s merchandise and birthday and holiday e-mail messages from him.” The sections are being “decorated to look like the inside of a team locker room.” Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark: “Fans talk about that all the time: ‘I want to meet my favorite player, I want to meet my hero.’ We’ve gone to the players and gotten their sign-off that we want to do something unique” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/5).

NEW PARTNERS: BDO Seidman, LLP and Chief Executive Air have inked deals making them official marketing partners of the Panthers and BankAtlantic Center, while Andy Frain Services has enhanced its existing partnership. BDO Seidman's deal is its first sports marketing agreement and includes presenting sponsorship of the concierge desks at BankAtlantic Center VIP entrances and an “Inside the Numbers” in-game feature. Chief Executive Air’s multi-year deal includes the presenting sponsorship of BankAtlantic Center’s suite attendants, including branded shirts and nametags. Andy Frain Services' multi-year agreement includes designation as the Official Security Services Provider of the Panthers and business-to-business networking opportunities (Panthers). 

FREQUENT FLIERS: In a special to THE HOCKEY NEWS, George Richards notes the Panthers this preseason will travel approximately 7,000 miles, as the team will take a “now annual pre-season tour of Canada.” The team in total will play nine preseason games, but only one at BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers “draw very few fans to pre-season games, so from a business standpoint, the team makes money when on the road.” Yormark: “In this economy, perhaps only having one pre-season game at BankAtlantic Center is a good idea. It’s one less game our season ticket holders have to pay for. Pre-season hockey in September is a hard sell, there’s no doubt about it” (THE HOCKEY NEWS, 8/3 issue).

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