Panthers’ owner uncertain of future in Florida
Doug Cifu wants to keep the Panthers in Florida, but the way things are going, it’s just not sustainable.
Speaking to Fox Sports last weekend, Cifu, who along with business partner Vinnie Viola purchased the team for $230 million last September, is uncertain of where the team will be in 5-10 years.
“The arena and the team have lost a significant amount of money year over year for the last 10-plus years and the current business model is not sustainable,” Cifu said.
According to The Hockey News, the team claims to lose $30 million a year and have debt on their arena, which is leased to the Panthers until 2028, of about $250 million.
The story adds Broward County mayor Barbara Sharief and the county have hired a consultant who is looking into the possibility of allowing the Panthers out of their arena lease and the opportunity to relocate.
The results of that report are expected in October.
“We have 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,” Cifu added.
Per CapGeek, the Panthers have over $65 million committed in player contracts for the upcoming season.
The Toronto Sun reported that the Panthers averaged 14,177 fans per game last season, which ranks 29th in the league.
In terms of potential cities for relocation, a report out of Seattle last week suggested real estate mogul Victor J. Coleman has begun discussions with Seattle business man Chris Hansen on agreement to allow an NHL team to play in his proposed SoDo Arena.
“We get lots of expressions of interest — whether it’s from Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas, or Kansas City — and we’re listening, but we haven’t enacted a formal process to begin considering expansion,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Sun April. “That’s not something we’re intent on doing right now, but we are listening.”
Quebec City may also be a viable option with a new $400 million arena set to open next year.