While plans to bring a fifth professional sports team to the area now are firmly in place thanks to David Beckham and his partners finally securing a site for an MLS stadium, South Florida was in some danger of losing its fourth pro team. The Florida Panthers continue to bleed money, and there were some murmurs that the team might relocate unless it got assistance from Broward County. Well, the county commission signed off on the deal yesterday. The team will continue to play in Sunrise until at least 2023, and we'll remain a true four-team metro area.
While South Florida sports teams gather their support from the tri-county area, it's good to see taxpayers in one of the other counties finally be put on the hook for supporting a team. Broward will give the team $86 million. Which is nothing compared to the estimated $2.4 billion Miami-Dade County could ultimately end up paying out for Marlins Parks, but at least it's something.
The Panthers are a money-losing machine. They've reportedly lost $154 million over their past 18 seasons, with losses reaching a high during the 2014-15 season at a total of $36 million. During that season the team had the lowest attendance in the entire league with an average of just 11,265 people showing up per home game. The venue holds 19,250 during hockey games.
The team, much like the Marlins and Dolphins, also continues to deliver up subpar quality seasons. Though, we should note they at least made it to the playoffs in 2012, which is more than the Fish and Fins can say.
The $86 million will be payed out over 13 seasons, but the Panthers have the option to break it in 2023 should they decide to move elsewhere. To do that, however, they'd have to prove they've lost $100 million over seven seasons, pay back the county $72 million, and give them a year's notice.
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If the team was sold, Broward County would also get 10 percent of the deal. The county will also receive a portion of the Panther's expansion fee should the league expand to Las Vegas or Quebec City. The team is also still on the hook for $5 million a year to continue paying off construction of the BB&T Center.
South Florida is also supposed to get an All-Star game sometime in the next few years, and the NHL will shell out $1.5 million to local youth hockey programs.
This is still sports welfare, but from Miami-Dade eyes at least, it doesn't look insane.
So what does this mean for Miamians? Well, we can continue saying things like, "Hey, maybe we could go up to Sawgrass and then catch a Panthers game. You know, make a whole day out of it," and then not actually do that.