Panthers now seeking $80m in arena subsidies, promise magic beans in exchange

Didja miss me? I spent most of yesterday dealing with a technology crisis (laptop hard drive go boom), and am still digging out, so will probably take a few days to fully catch up with all the news. Let’s get out the news shovel, though, and see how far we can get. For starters:

The Florida Panthers‘ owners demand for $61 million in rent breaks plus 22 acres of free land for development in exchange for nothing turns out not to be quite for nothing: Broward County would get a cut of any team windfall profits, as spelled out in the team’s current lease. Except the team seems dead set on ensuring that it would never actually have to share any profits at all, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

•If the arena profits exceed $12 million, the county would reap 20 percent of any profits. That’s 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 $4.5 million in arena bond payments even though the county would be paying them. The Panthers also would move to the expense ledger a $250,000 annual arena management fee paid to the Panthers by the county.

•The Panthers would remove from the profit books the money made from seats in exclusive sections: Club Red and ADT. That move alone would allow the Panthers to keep $6 million or more in revenues without counting them toward the profit-sharing threshold, according to the auditor’s analysis.

•The Panthers’ contributions toward arena reserves, set aside for repairs and renovations, would be cut, saving the Panthers at least $650,000 a year, or $9.7 million in all.

Plus, the county’s ability to audit the Panthers’ books would be reduced, the county would cover all arena property insurance payments over $1 million (“an estimated $600,000 a year, or $9 million over the life of the contract”), the team would shift $500,000 in annual maintenance expenses to the county, and any payment to the county for the 22 acres of land is “to be negotiated.”

Add in all those additional breaks, and it looks like the Panthers owners are now demanding about $80 million worth of subsidies from Broward, in exchange for which they’d kick back 20% of any profits over $18 million a year, if somehow the Panthers start selling tickets like crazy and their accountants forget how to juggle the books to make it look like they’re only earning $17.9 million. County commissioners reportedly aren’t happy about this, so expect them to haggle the team down to a slightly smaller amount of cash in exchange for profit sharing that would kick in at a slightly lower impossible threshold.


2 comments on “Panthers now seeking $80m in arena subsidies, promise magic beans in exchange

  1. The best is how they got LiveNation to threaten not to hold anymore events there unless this deal went through (http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2014/03/18/county-officials-balk-at-panthers-requests/)

  2. Like Glendale, the folks at Broward county need to look at the big picture: Paying a hockey team to play in an arena that you built for it at little or no cost to the tenant is simply ridiculous.

    If the Panthers began playing 200 games a year, or won the stanley cup every year, the net revenues to the county not only wouldn’t cover the subsidy involved, it wouldn’t even make a dent in it.

    Let this blood sucking parasite starve, or move to somewhere it can actually become a going concern. The fact that Florida pays Loria to put a baseball team on the field (kind of) that no-one bothers to turn up to watch is not an indication that “all” franchises need to be similarly subsidized. Get out of this mess while you can. No-one watches the Panthers on tv. Very few people are willing to pay NHL prices to see them live.

    What part of this do the alleged capitalists in Florida not understand?

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