Arena Profit Sharing An Obstacle In NHL Panthers Deal With Broward County
Broward County (Fla.) officials said that they "won't support a bailout" of the NHL Panthers without a better financial return for taxpayers, but the team appears to "have something else in mind," according to Brittany Wallman of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. In the contract "proposed by the team are items their representatives haven't publicized -- terms that would make it more difficult for the public to receive a share of the profits at the publicly owned BB&T Center." A majority of county commissioners "support negotiating a new deal." But some commissioners said that the "eventual deal will likely hinge on whether the Panthers agree to give more profits" back to the county. An important aspect of the deal "are changes to the profit calculations." A county audit notes the proposal "effectively increases" the $12M profit-share threshold to over $18M. If the figure exceeds $12M, the county "would reap" 20% of any profits. That is "not changing," but the calculation of "'profit' would change, to help the Panthers keep more of the revenues." The team would "continue to count as an expense" $4.5M in arena bond payments "even though the county would be paying them." The Panthers also would "remove from the profit books the money made from seats in exclusive sections." The county auditor's analysis noted that move alone would "allow the Panthers to keep" $6M or more in revenues "without counting them toward the profit-sharing threshold." Meanwhile, the Panthers' "contributions toward arena reserves, set aside for repairs and renovations, would be cut, saving the Panthers at least $650,000 a year." The team also would "back away from financial responsibility for maintaining the arena, and would ask the county to pick up $500,000 a year in maintenance." That piece of the deal would "cost the county" $7.5M (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/16).