SBD/January 10, 2014/Franchises

NHL Panthers Say Team Is Losing $20M Per Year, Look For More County Funding

Panthers execs are seeking a rewrite of their contract with Broward County
The NHL Panthers say that the team is "losing more than" $20M per year, and that it "needs more public funds to survive," according to Brittany Wallman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The "struggling team is asking for a rewrite of its contract" with Broward County. Under the Panthers' proposal, the county would "use additional tourism taxes to pick up" $70M in BB&T Center costs currently being paid by the team. The Panthers organization runs the arena, "bringing in more money from concerts and other events" than from NHL games. Financial records show that the Panthers "make a profit from arena operations." But team President Michael Yormark said that the Panthers are "losing money." Yormark: "This organization has lost between $20 and $30 million on an annual basis, and those dollars have been funded by our owners." Wallman notes the team's current arrangement "has the county paying" $8M a year toward the debt for arena construction. Another $2M "comes from state funds," and the Panthers pay $4.5M. The Panthers organization also "pays for maintaining and insuring the facility." Under the proposed change, the Panthers "would shed" the $4.5M annual payment for the 14-year balance of the current contract, and it would be "picked up by the county." The county also would "contribute $500,000 a year toward maintenance, and would pay any of the property insurance tab" that exceeds $1M. The Panthers would "swap the land it has rights to build on, 12 acres south of the arena, in favor of 22 acres on the arena's north side." County officials said that they "didn't want to rush to a vote." They will "vet the proposal at a workshop in the near future." Yormark said that new team Owner Vincent Viola "hasn't threatened to take the Panthers out of Broward" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/10).
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