All In The Family: Vincent Viola, Sons Committed To Turning Around NHL Panthers
The NHL Panthers on Friday night play their first home game under the ownership of Vincent Viola, and the Viola family intends to "shape the Panthers in the mold of the old-style family-run teams," according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, who wrote under the header, "Violas Bring Family, Swagger To Panthers." John Viola, Vincent's oldest of three sons, said that his family "will put their stamp on the Panthers, indicative of their Italian-American heritage." He said of the BB&T Center, "You'll be in our house, and it will be your house." Davis noted Vincent Viola's message to fans is that "turning around a long-struggling franchise will be a process, one that he is committed to." Viola during Friday's game will be sitting with Panthers Vice Chair & Partner Douglas Cifu "near the red line a few rows up from the glass." Cifu said, "There is not going to be an owners suite. We are fans first, Vinnie and me. We took the best seats that were still left. And we paid for them, I want you to know" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/10). Davis notes the Panthers Friday will unveil a new $4.2M scoreboard that is "cutting edge with one of the first pitched-forward, 360-degree continuous primary screens in professional sports." It features "state-of-the-art 6mm LED high-definition screens, 16 feet high and extending almost 168 feet around." Panasonic and Lighthouse Technologies built the board. A "sellout is expected for the 15th home opener at the BB&T Center." Panthers President & CEO Michael Yormark said that season-ticket sales "are up from the lockout-shortened season total of the 'low 8,000s.'" He added, "I anticipate us being at between 9,500 and 10,000 full-season ticket equivalents this year." Yormark said that the ownership change "also spurred a flurry of ticket-buying in the past couple of weeks" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/11).
WHERE'S CAT BALLOU? In Miami, George Richards notes the Panthers drop the puck on their 20th home opener "one day shy of the 20th anniversary of the first game at Miami Arena." Although the team said that it would "play Friday’s game in 1993-style jerseys, that won’t happen because of league marketing rules." Instead, "youngsters will wear jerseys representing the Panthers’ lineup from that first night in Miami during introductions" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/11).
SOMETHING ON THE LINE: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the Panthers and the Lightning on Thursday jointly announced the creation of the Governor's Cup, an annual competition between the two franchises. The winner of the season series will be awarded the Cup following the final matchup of the year, and each team will make a donation to the other team's youth hockey initiatives. The Cup will be supported by a multimedia marketing campaign including an official logo. The Lightning on Thursday beat the Panthers 7-2 at Tampa Bay Times Forum in the first of the teams' four matchups this season (THE DAILY).