SBD/May 15, 2013/Facilities

NHL Panthers Get Funding For Scoreboard After County Questions Financial Irregularities

BB&T Center's proposed scoreboard would help bring in a major convention
The Broward County (Fla.) Commission yesterday agreed to pay $4.2M for a new scoreboard at BB&T Center, after commissioners "questioned irregularities" about the NHL Panthers' finances "cited in a county audit," according to Robert Nolin of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The audit report said that Arena Operating Company, a division of Panthers Owner Sunrise Sports & Entertainment that manages BB&T Center, "filed late or incomplete financial statements and shifted" $4.2M to the team that should have gone into a county reserve fund. The Panthers' request was to "use tourist development tax money to replace the team's 15-year-old, trouble-prone scoreboard." Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark "promised to deposit" the $4.2M into the county's reserve fund by Aug. 31. Yormark said, "It's an internal accounting issue. There are dollars that flow back and forth between the AOC and the Panthers." He added that a Jehovah's Witness convention scheduled for '14 would "have an economic impact" of $96M, including $5.7M in sales tax. The group will "only come if it has a large suspended scoreboard capable of broadcasting feeds from off-site speakers" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 5/15). County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger said that the Panthers paid the county $26,000 last year -- "only the second time Broward County received anything from the team" since the arena opened in '98. In Miami, George Richards writes the Panthers and the county have a "complex profit sharing agreement in which Broward basically gets" 20% of every dollar over the first $12M "the team clears." County Commissioner Tim Ryan proposed "lowering the threshold" to $9M, but that was "voted down" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/15).
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