Monday, March 17, 2014

Florida Panthers Don't Want to Open Books Because...They're Trustworthy!

Stop the presses! Florida politicians have come to their senses!
County officials say they won't support a bailout of the Florida Panthers hockey team without a better financial return for taxpayers.
This, according to the Sun-Sentinel, which reports Broward Co. wants a share of arena profits - an idea recently floated (but ultimately abandoned) by Orange Co. commissioners.

Of course, the franchise, which wants the new subsidy to pad its bottom line, doesn't seem interested in sharing profits.  It responded with a proposal of its own:
The team's main request is to be relieved of contributing toward the debt on the arena; the county would pay the remainder of the $225.1 million debt, with help from a $2 million annual state subsidy.

That's not all the Panthers are asking for. Here's what else is in the 59-page Panthers proposal:

•If the arena profits exceed $12 million, the county would reap 20 percent of any profits. That's not changing. But the calculation of "profit" would change, to help the Panthers keep more of the revenues. The team would continue to count as an expense $4.5 million in arena bond payments even though the county would be paying them. The Panthers also would move to the expense ledger a $250,000 annual arena management fee paid to the Panthers by the county.

•The Panthers would remove from the profit books the money made from seats in exclusive sections: Club Red and ADT. That move alone would allow the Panthers to keep $6 million or more in revenues without counting them toward the profit-sharing threshold, according to the auditor's analysis.
•The Panthers' contributions toward arena reserves, set aside for repairs and renovations, would be cut, saving the Panthers at least $650,000 a year, or $9.7 million in all.

•The ability of the county to check the Panthers' financial books would be reduced.

•The team's payment for property insurance for the arena would be capped at $1 million, and the county would pick up the rest. That's an estimated $600,000 a year, or $9 million over the life of the contract.

•The team would back away from financial responsibility for maintaining the arena, and would ask the county to pick up $500,000 a year in maintenance. That piece of the deal would cost the county $7.5 million in tourist taxes.

•A 22-acre piece of vacant land owned by the county next to the arena would be given to the Panthers for construction of a hotel-casino. The county's financial return would be negotiated.
My favorite part is the "calculation of 'profit' would change."

No, no, wait, my favorite part is the "ability of the county to check the Panthers' financial books would be reduced."  Yeah, that's definitely it.  I love that the Panthers expect the county to trust them to turn over an equitable amount of revenue...because they're clearly being up-front and honest about everything right now.

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