News broke Friday that Broward County is hiring a consultant to evaluate options for the Florida Panthers who are currently asking for another $80M in subsidies from the counties to reduce the alleged hemorrhaging of money. As you can imagine, speculation ran rampant from here to Quebec City.
Let’s step back and evaluate how we got here:
- The Florida Panthers were sold to Vincent Viola back in September.
- In February, Florida Panthers ask Broward County for help with their cash flow option via a subsidy (~80Million over 14 years).
- Friday, the Mayor of Broward County engages in a conversation on twitter that reveals that they will be hiring a consultant to evaluate options.
It definitely seems like the mayor is on the defense a bit. This is a report from February and it appears that she does not have a solid stance right now, hence the consultant.
There is a couple ways to look at this latest development:
- County is being responsible to getting an expert to weigh their options. They will need to pay the arena debt with or without the Panthers so it is good to know the cost/benefit of their options.
- The consultant could be paid to tell them the answer they want to hear (i.e. “we can’t afford to let them leave.”)
One of my biggest issues with all of this is if the team was hemorrhaging cash, why did Vincent Viola buy the team? Certainly we would have evaluated his investment. I don’t think the Panthers are going anywhere, the team appears to make money for the owner. That said, the numbers may have changed since the full season lockout.
Attendance has been relativity flat: 2011-12 had a playoff run and 2012-13, all the games were played from mid-January on, a time of year where they draw more fans not to mention it had the excitement of a shortened season. According to Team Marketing Report, the Panthers had the 3rd lowest ticket prices in the league last season only behind Dallas and Colorado (two playoff teams that will undoubtedly see their ticket prices go up.)
If the threat is real, I don’t see Seattle as an option. With Quebec’s new arena near completion, that would probably be the target. The challenges that remain for Quebec are ownership and the Canadian dollar exposure.