The Florida Panthers may not sell out every game and they may not be the most popular franchise in the NHL, but they do have a savvy ownership group keen on finding ways to turn a profit. The Florida Panthers are owned by Sunrise Sports and Entertainment. SS&E is not only assioacted with the Florida Panthers, but also with every show, concert or other sporting event held at the Panthers’ Sunrise, Florida home the BB&T Center (previously Bank Atlantic Center). This means that even if the Florida Panthers lose money on a year to year basis, the other events held at the BB&T Center keep the company out of the red and in fact make the whole endeavor profitable. (Source: Forbes)
Last July Sunrise Sports & Entertainment looked towards the further diversification of their revenue streams by signing a partnership agreement with Boyd Gaming, a Las Vegas casino operator. This agreement is the first step towards brining a massive casino resort to Sunrise. (Source: Forbes)
While the NHL has already Ok’d the prospect of one of their franchises being intertwined with a casino, there are still many hoops that must be jumped through by SS&E and Boyd Gaming in order to get their plans approved by the state of Florida. (Source: Forbes)
How would a huge casino resort right next to the BB&T Center affect the Florida Panthers? For one thing, if their plan is a success, Sunrise Sports and Entertainment stands to greatly increase their profits. Fans would hope and expect that the company would use some of these profits to improve the product on the ice by expanding the payroll and signing some big name talents. A large casino and hotel would also increase the amount of people coming through Sunrise and it would be safe to surmise that this would result in higher attendance at Panthers home games.
So on the one hand there are obvious benefits to the proposed casino resort. On the other hand are the negatives. Would fans mind their franchise being so closely related to a casino? Would they have a problem with attending hockey games in the shadow of a casino resort? What kind of traffic and logistical problems would come out of such an expansive project? And most of all, would fans be willing to sell their souls to the gambling giants for the sake of a stronger franchise?
Expanding the scope of the issue the question becomes, how okay are we with defiling our country with casinos in the name of higher profits? It is an interesting question. With regulations on casinos and gambling becoming less stringent it is a question that will become more relevant as time goes on, and it is a safe bet that in the future, the Florida Panthers will not be the only franchise in this situation.
I would be curious to know: What do Panthers fans think? Would you have a problem with a casino resort in sunrise? Do you think this would be a positive or negative for the franchise? If you have an opinion on this issue feel free to comment below.