SBD/Issue 175/Facilities & Venues

NHL Panthers Look To Restructure BankAtlantic Center Loan

BankAtlantic Center's Operator Seeking To
Cut Its Annual Payments By $2.5M Through '16

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment “wants Broward County to restructure its loan for building BankAtlantic Center" in order to free up cash for the owners of the NHL Panthers, according to Sarah Talalay of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Sunrise Sports’ Arena Operating Co., which operates BankAtlantic Center, is “seeking to cut its annual payments" by $2.5M through '16 and then raise them by about $1M a year starting in '17. The restructuring is expected to cost $23M “more over the life of the loan, which would also be extended a year, and be paid by Sunrise Sports, not the county.” Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark said, “We’re not asking the county for a handout, we’re not asking the taxpayers for any money. We’re asking so we can get some kind of relief for the next five years. It’s no different from a company asking for relief from their landlord in challenging economic times.” However, a county financial report said that the new plan “could transfer more financial risk to Broward, which owns the arena.” The plan also “does not include a cash-funded debt service reserve.” Meanwhile, County Auditor Evan Lukic “examined the arena’s finances and determined Arena Operating Co. had distributed $8.4 million more to the Panthers than allowed under its agreement with the county -- potentially risking the company’s ability to meet its debt obligations to the county” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/24).

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