Florida Panthers Asking for $70 Million in Public Funds

The Florida Panthers is the latest South Florida pro sports team that has decided to throw on some rags, put on the fingerless gloves, grab a tin cup, and start chanting. "Alms for the poor!" to the public.

Yep. The Panthers -- a franchise owned by a billionaire -- much like the Marlins and Dolphins, are asking for public money to stay "alive."

And, of, course, this all comes down to them getting a new arena paid for by the people.

See also: Florida Panthers Sold to New York Businessman for $240 Million

The team is claiming that it's losing $20 million, and that it needs public funds to keep it from not existing anymore.

And what is South Florida to do without a professional ice hockey team??

Team President Michael Yormark says that the team has proposed that Broward County can use tourism taxes to help pay for BB&T Center arena costs, which comes down to $70 million.

The Panthers also want to develop 22 acres north of the arena for a casino-hotel.

Team President Michael Yormark says that the Panthers are asking to rewrite its contract with Broward County, claiming that the current contract -- which was put together back in the 1990s -- is unsustainable.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, team also says it wants to be able to compete as "an entertainment venue with the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and American Airlines Arena."

Broward County Commission officials say that they plan on voting on the team's proposal, but won't rush into anything.

On the surface, it's hard to find how the county would benefit from the proposal, according to the county auditor.

The team proposal includes taking $4.5 million of their annual payment off the books, and have it picked up by the county. The team is also asking the county to contribute $500,000 a year toward maintenance. In turn, the team will pay the $10.6 million in loans it took from Broward over the years, and will pay the Convention and Visitors Bureau $500,000 a year.

And, of course, they want that land for that hotel-casino.

Back in September, the Panthers were bought for $240 million by Cliff Viner and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment to a group led by New York businessman Vincent Viola.

The Panthers have had an operating loss of $12 million for the 2011-12 season and was worth $170 million, according to Forbes.

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph. Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter

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