According to the New York Post, a buyer has emerged for the Florida Panthers, and the sale of the team could be announced within the next few weeks. The group angling to purchase the team is headed by New York businessman Vincent “Vinnie” Viola.
What does this mean for the Florida Panthers? The obvious question that comes to mind when hearing that the team could be sold to buyers from New York is, will the franchise be moved? The answer to that question seems to be no as the Panthers lease with their current stadium, the BB&T Center, runs through 2028.
Panthers beat writer George Richards reported that Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, which operates the BB&T Center and turns a profit via non-Panther entertainment at the stadium, will be included in the deal.
With the Panthers seemingly staying in South Florida for the time being, what can we expect from a new ownership group? Hopefully the new ownership will be willing to spend a bit more than currant majority owner Cliff Viner, although you cannot really blame Viner, the Panthers lost $12 million in 2012. (Forbes)
Viola, who was previously a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and has been described by Leah McGrath Goodman, who published a book about NYMEX, as a “tough guy from Brooklyn”. Viola graduated from West Point in 1972. He served as an infantry officer in the 101st Airborne until 1982 when he transferred to the Army Reserve. After leaving the Army Reserve in 1993, Viola became a successful commodities trader. He is now the chairman of Virtu Financial an electronic commodities trading firm.
Both sides are waiting for the league to sign off on the deal. For more information on the potential sale of the franchise, check out George Richards’ coverage in the Miami Herald and check out this profile of Viola courtesy of the Atlantic Yards Report.