Real Story Of Panther’s Multi-Million Request





Credit for writing a most comprehensive story about the Florida Panther’s multi-million request from taxpayers.

The story quotes County Commissioner Chip LaMarca as being against the request:

“The entertainment side is going well, but the hockey team isn’t,” he said. “I don’t think we want to subsidize the operation of the team.”

LaMarca is locked in a tough re-election battle, so I don’t expect him to flip flop on this statement, which he has repeated to other media.

Commissioner Lois Wexler, who is term limited out and will not be running again, is planted firmly in the middle by Bloomberg:

“I’m going to support what I can. I’m not going to give away the store.”

The most interesting factoid is the following:

“Broward projected at the time that profit-sharing would have returned $76.6 million to taxpayers by now. The county has received $331,000.”

It proves that taxpayers can never, never, ever trust any predictions from planners or consultants…whether it be about hockey teams or school bond issues or commuter rail.

Here is the piece. I recommend it.

Meanwhile, billionaire Panther’s owner Vincent Viola’s high-speed trading firm Virtu late Thursday postponed its planned initial public offering (IPO) amid increased scrutiny of the trading practices of that industry, according to

High-speed trading firms have come under firm after the recent publication of the book “Flash Boys” by financial journalist Michael Lewis. 

15 Responses to “Real Story Of Panther’s Multi-Million Request”

  1. A real joke says:

    I find it funny that they need money and yet in the last election 3 different groups that have ties to the Panthers gave out a ton of money to certain people that they figured would vote in their favor to vote in favor of giving them the money. They are real jokers

  2. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Toluse Olorunnipa (author of the Bloomberg story) is a highly respected journalist. He’s done great work for the Tampa Bay Times too. If journalism is still a viable career path, this guy is a rising star for sure.

    As for the Panthers, cut them loose NOW and let them file for bankruptcy. Take back the BB&T center IMMEDIATELY. With the economy steadily pulling out of the worst recession since 1933, BB&T Center can become a productive asset under new management.

    County Administrator Bertha Henry has Steve Cernak running Port Everglades – let her hire another Steve to run BB&T Center and we will see BB&T do well too.

    Commissioners, dump the Panthers NOW and take back OUR arena!


    I don’t know Toluse, but I know his work. I agree. He is very good.

  3. Interesting says:

    Go on chips page on the browqrd county website and there is a link to an interview between lobbyist ed pozzuli and chip. Sure is a lot of love for the panthers and fellow pisan vinnyy viola in that interview.

  4. George Mihaiu says:

    Instead of using those tourism tax dollars to bail out a hockey franchise way out in Sunrise, how about if we use those ‘excess’ tourism tax dollars toward building the long-promised Port Bypass Road to help alleviate the now-constant traffic tie-ups on 17th St. and S. Federal Hwy. so our tourists and cruise passengers can actually get to/from the airport to the beach…and so our beach and 17th Street corridor residents can actually access their own neighborhoods? And it will be especially needed if the Convention Center Hotel finally becomes a reality!

  5. Seth Platt says:

    I like George’s point!
    Lets put some sand on those beaches while we are at it.
    Maybe Sunrise can levy a tax on Sawgrass Mills to bail out the team.

  6. Chaz Stevens, Militant Atheist says:

    I’d like to know…

    How many science, Engligh, art, and history books that $76.6M would buy…

    Personally, maybe it’s just me, but I’m more inclined to educate our kids, than to line the pockets of a Wallstreet trader.

  7. Sunrise says:

    Maybe if sunrise stopped purposefully inviting dangerous violent criminals to their city the public might feel better about bailing them out. But nobody wants to visit sunrise or the arena because they may get caught in a police initiated shootout with all the violent drug dealers they invited to town.

  8. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Sadly the county staff is convinced they must give the team millions. Why I asked a senior staffer? Because the arena was custom built for hockey they carefully will not call ice hockey. When hearing this reasoning I found unconvincing I asked what research our county professional staff did to look at alternatives to inform our board of commissioners I was told nay a bit! To me the lobbyists have not only snowed the commission members but the professional staff. The fix is in n no one is doing anything to effectively stop it.

  9. The Great Wazoo says:

    If the good Lord meant for there to be ice hockey in Florida, wouldn’t He have given us very different weather?
    What bozos the Commission must take us taxpayers for to keep giving multimillionaires millions in public money. And of course, the multimillionaires always want more.

  10. Broward Voter says:

    When a long term estimate in a business plan of $76 million is off by half or by 20% the reasons should be clearly understood.

    When it is off by 99% we must know the precise reasons why. A deviation that large suggests that the original assumptions in the plan were all way off base. It suggests that both sides expected a future that didn’t even come near to being true. That demands explanation.

    Without that explanation we don’t have the real story. So I would like to understand how it got to only $300K in order to draw an informed conclusion.

    Can anyone explain that factually?

  11. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    The only thing the commission members are snowed with is money. Someone needs to look into the staff as well.

  12. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Find other uses for BB&T Center or tear it down. I believe the Supervisor of Elections is looking for a good place to count ballots on Election Day…

  13. Just Saying says:

    Sue Gunzburger’s sense of fiscal responsibility on the county commission will be missed when she retires later this year. The The 17-years Panthers “gimme tax dollars” saga illustrates the point. Again and again, she voted against every one of these Panthers corporate welfare schemes … starting with the original bad deal I. 1996. In fact, Gunzburger was the lone vote against the deal.

    Check out this foreshadowing excerpt from a 1996 Sentinel article:

    “The sole no vote came from Suzanne Gunzburger, who said she was concerned about risking general taxpayer money if arena business didn’t meet expectations.”

    Over the years Gunzburger voted against (and was on the losing end of) every one of their bad refinance schemes and the “buy us a new multimillion dollar scoreboard or we could move” scheme … each time with the Panthers promising the start paying back more of the money they should have been paying us all along. See:

    Fool us once, shame on the Panthers. Fool us five times, shame on those irresponsible County Commissioners!!

  14. Duke says:

    This is all the fault of the county commission that was in place when the arena was built. Not only did they build to suit, but they gave away the management contract to the team for pennies. There was no reason to do that, other than to appease then owner Wayne Huizenga. Any prospective buyer has always known that the real money maker is not so much the team, but all the dough the owner can make by managing the arena and selling the naming rights. It’s pretty disgusting that the Panthers are making a lot of money off events that have nothing to do with hockey.

    Want to buy the naming rights to the building? Don’t pay Broward County, pay the Panthers. You have to pay $20.00 to park? You’re not paying Broward County, you’re paying the Panthers. Want to promote a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Arena? You’re not paying rent to the county, you’re paying rent to the Panthers. Wanna buy a $12.00 mixed drink at a concert? That $12.00 doesn’t go to the county, it goes to the Panthers. Want to do some in arena advertising? You’re not paying the county, you’re paying the Panthers.

    The only way the county should give them one dime is if the team agrees to sell back the management contract. Let the county hire an arena manager, and let the Panthers make all they can make for the 41 nights a year they play in that building. The other 324 nights belongs to the landlord. That would be us.

  15. Duke says:

    And after reading the article that was linked, I’m convinced that Barbara Sharief needs some serious tutoring on what the team is making off non-hockey related events and how much the county could be making if it were running the arena. Her comments concerning whether the building would devalue and what Live Nation would do if the team left are nothing short of laughable.

    Anyone who thinks Vincent Viola is losing 25 million a year on the Panthers needs their head examined. Hopefully, we as a society are not that gullible. For those of us that are, our elected leaders should be protecting us from such ludicrous claims.