With arena renovation deal, Panthers attempt to swindle Broward again, auditor says

Broward County has already been burned by the Florida Panthers in a deal relating to their Sunrise arena once, and now the local National Hockey League team is at it again, according to County Auditor Evan Lukic.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the county paid more than $90 million to build the stadium in 1998, but only recouped $331,000 from the profit-sharing deal it struck at the time. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ affiliate that owns the arena has collected $117.4 million. The county got a cut of profits just once.

Now, the Panthers are seeking a $7.7 million loan from the county to renovate the arena, and promises to lower the threshold that triggers profit sharing to $10 million for $12 million, and increasing the county’s share to 30 percent from 20 percent. But the fine print on the proposal is that the first $2 million the Panthers pay in profit-sharing would count towards the Panthers’ repayment of the loan. Once the loan is repaid, the county and the club would go back to its original agreement, leaving open the possibility that the county wouldn’t get back any more than it’s already owed.

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Lukic characterized the deal as “lopsided.” He added: “The isn’t the deal they’re portraying … clearly it’s misleading.”

The Panthers counter that value of the arena goes beyond simple mathematics, as a better facility ensures the future of hockey in the county, and would provide more construction jobs and a handful of permanent positions. [Sun-Sentinel]