182,000,000 reasons for the Florida Panthers to remain in Sunrise
The public company Sports Properties Acquisitions Corp. is in talks to purchase the Panthers and the rights to run the BankAtlantic Center and surrounding properties for a reported $230-$240 million. But unless the new ownership group is willing to pay Broward County the remaining debt for building and improving the arena - another $182 million - they are locked into a lease that will keep them put for the next 20 years.
Nothing is bulletproof, but I challenge anyone to find a more solidly ironclad guarantee for a team south of Madison Square Garden. Are the Cats worth upwards of, gulp, $422M?
As the Blues Brothers' manager so eloquently asked while taking a steam: "Who dya guys think ya are? The Beatles?"
This should effectively put the "But are they gonna move?" questions to bed. For now.
(Whalers. Hartford. I know, I know. Far different circumstances, kids. And this ain't Glendale, Arizona, either. Sorry my Yotes compadres.)
A move seems unlikely because location is a big part of the Panthers' appeal. Although they play in a small market and haven't been to the playoffs in nine years, the deal would allow the new owners to manage and profit from all other events at the BankAtlantic Center. Plus, the current ownership group envisions building a mixed-use entertainment district around the stadium called the City of Oz.
There will undoubtedly be much more to come as this thing works itself out over the next weeks and months, but the Panthers really are more valuable right where they currently reside.
Next to a criminally-large blinking billboard.