NHL Panthers Committed To Florida, But Say Current Business Model "Not Sustainable"
NHL Panthers Vice Chair & Partner Douglas Cifu said he and team Owner Vinnie Viola are "here to make this franchise work in Florida," but added the team and BB&T Center "have lost a significant amount of money year over year for the last 10-plus years and the current business model is not sustainable," according to Jameson Olive of FOX SPORTS FLORIDA. The team's long-term future in Florida is a "conversation that has been ongoing for over a decade." Cifu said ownership has "kept our end of the bargain by signing six free agents on July 1 to more than $60 million of contracts and resigning some key young players to multi-year deals." He added the Panthers' payroll is "currently about $5 million from the NHL cap, the highest it has ever been." Olive noted the Panthers last month made headlines by eliminating their ice dancers. Cifu explained the decision, saying, "We concluded that we wanted the hockey experience at the BB&T to be just that -- all about hockey." He added, "We were contacted by a number of fans that bring young children to games who expressed some level of concern regarding the ice dancers. As a father of two children who are 11 and 12, I understood and respected their points of view which are consistent with our hockey-first vision for Panthers games." Cifu also noted the team's Club Red premium lounge will have a "smaller footprint" this season (FOXSPORTSFLORIDA.com, 8/9).