Linear with true South Florida sports fashion, Sunrise-based hockey club the Florida Panthers has submitted a proposal to the Broward Count Commission in the hopes of securing increased public funding for their home arena, the BB&T Center. Seeking to buoy the sinking franchise, president Michael Yormark submitted the manifesto three days ago, targeting a supposedly latent pool of money generated by the county’s previous implementation of a two percent tourism bed tax.
The Panthers-managers of the originally public funded arena-reign in more funds from concerts and other events than they do from hockey games; and while the hockey club gains a profit from normal arena operations, the organization continues to bleed upwards of $20 million a year. Per the Sun-Sentinel:
“The current arrangement has the county paying $8 million a year toward the debt for arena construction. Another $2 million comes from state funds, and the Panthers pay $4.5 million. The Panthers organization also pays for maintaining and insuring the facility.
Under the proposed change, for the 14-year balance of the current contract:
•The Panthers would shed the $4.5 million annual payment; it would be picked up by the county.
•The county would contribute $500,000 a year toward maintenance, and would pay any of the property insurance tab that exceeds $1 million.
•The Panthers would swap the land it has rights to build on, 12 acres south of the arena, in favor of 22 acres on the arena’s north side, where the Panthers hope a casino-hotel or some other development could be built and brought onto the tax rolls.
•The Panthers would immediately repay $10.6 million in loans the county granted them in recent years.
•The Panthers would continue contributing $500,000 a year to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.”
The casino-hotel proposal remains contingent on the state’s acceptance of legislature that legalizes such construction.
The arena, constructed in 1998, cost taxpayers $185 million to construct, approved on the premise that “profits would return to the taxpayers”. That promise has thus far proven empty; the arena has returned a profit only once during its current tenant’s stay. Controversial at first, the deal proved to be the nadir of South Florida sports architecture until Miami Marlins owner/luminary/curator/asshole Jeffrey Loria bitched and moaned his way into a deal that essentially shafted all of Miami-Dade county in the present and for the next 34 years.
But this is South Florida. And this is hockey. Therefore, nobody really gives a *best ad-lib phrase submission gets a cookie* about what went down on some deal back in the 90’s. I wonder what we’ll be called when we move to Seattle. The Thunderbirds, like the junior squad? Something grunge related? Maybe they’ll get an actual seventh-man thing going for them over there. Either way, the boys better get used to flannel, fish markets and Starbucks. Oh, and Macklemore. Lots of Macklemore.