Florida Panthers Asking for Public Money, but Proposal Seems to Benefit Only the Team

Looks like the Florida Panthers' latest proposal to Broward County has altered language that would basically screw over the county while they make the big dough, according to a rundown of the proposal by the Sun Sentinel.

The first proposal the Panthers made at the beginning of the year had asked the county for something around $70 million, claiming that they had been losing $20 million and that they need public funds to keep from being dissolved from the NHL. This latest proposal asks for $80 million or more.

The Panthers also want to develop 22 acres north of the BB&T Center for a casino-hotel that the county is also supposed to pay for.

See also: Florida Panthers Asking for $70 Million in Public Funds

The Panthers turned over the 57-page proposal to Broward County commissioners and, according to the Sentinel's findings, it boils down to more money for the team while the county gets the shaft.

Those wishes are not far off from when the team asked for county money originally back in January.

The team's original proposal included taking $4.5 million of its annual payment off the books and having it picked up by Broward County. The team also asked the county to contribute $500,000 a year toward maintenance.

The latest proposal says the Panthers need a hotel-tax subsidy package worth $80 million over the next 14 years to keep them from losing money. But the overall deal would seem to benefit only the Panthers.

"As currently written in their proposal," Deputy County Administrator Rob Hernandez told the Sun-Sentinel, "it would definitely have an impact on our ability to share in any of the profits."

County officials say they won't support the proposal without a better return for Broward's taxpayers.

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 were worth $170 million, according to Forbes.

As for Panther and hockey fans' reaction to this, they took to Twitter with the usual vitriol.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph