SBD/February 20, 2014/Franchises

NHL Panthers Have County Commissioners' Support In Proposed Arena Debt Relief

A majority of Broward County (Fla.) commissioners on Tuesday said that they "support a bailout" of the NHL Panthers, arguing the county would "be in a financial bind" if the team moves away, according to Brittany Wallman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The County Commission's support, "voiced informally Tuesday for the first time at a public workshop, ranged from tepid to enthusiastic," but the "consensus was clear." At least six of the eight commissioners who will be voting on the deal "support giving an undetermined amount of additional taxes collected from tourists" to the team, which leases and operates the county's BB&T Center. The team is "asking for an additional" $80M. Commissioners agreed that one "significant element to the Panthers' proposal, a request for development rights to 22 acres of county land next to the arena, will be separated from the request to give the team additional tax funds, and will take a slower track." Commissioners said that they would "consider using tourist taxes to pick up part of the Panthers' annual debt payments and property insurance on the arena," but they "wanted the county to partake in any financial success." The team is "contractually obligated to play in the arena" until '28, but the "fear that the Panthers would leave motivated commissioners." The "outstanding debt" on the arena is $225.1M. The county currently pays $8M a year "toward the debt and is being asked to pay" the Panthers' $4.5M annual contribution for the remaining 14 years (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/19).
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