The Florida Panthers‘ arena in Broward County (I’m not going to go through the trouble of remembering its current corporate name) opened 19 years ago, at public expense, as a way to get the team to stay in the Miami area long-term. So, naturally, it’s time for the county to start thinking about tearing it down:
This week, Broward County embraced a development vision for the land, a potential playbook created by the Urban Land Institute… The institute’s land use experts said the county-owned BB&T Center, a giant venue surrounded by parking spaces, represents “an opportunity lost.’’
The main reason for hiring ULI is to figure out how to develop the land around the arena — which the county bought back for $86 million in 2015 — which would have been a better idea before spending the money, but better late than never. But that deal also handed Panthers owner Vincent Viola an out clause in his lease, so the consultants are also being tasked with figuring out what to do with the land if the team leaves:
The consultants explored three alternatives: the Panthers extend their lease, and a casino is added; the Panthers extend their lease, and office and housing are added; and the Panthers leave, the arena is demolished, and housing, a casino and offices are added. The third option would bring in the most tax revenue and income to the county, at an estimated $391.3 million over 11 years, the report said.
On the one hand, you could probably come up with more economically productive uses for the land than a hockey arena, assuming Broward County has much more time before it’s underwater. Though if the county ends up having to build the Panthers a new arena somewhere else to keep them after they opt out of their lease, that’s less helpful. That out clause really was as bad an idea as it sounded at the time.