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Owner: Panthers' future in Florida uncertain

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 17 2014 11:59:51 AM CDT
Updated On: Aug 18 2014 09:43:46 AM CDT
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Florida Panthers owner Doug Cifu recently told Fox Sports that he is uncertain of the team's future in the state.

Cifu and business partner Vinnie Viola bought the Panthers for $230 million last September.

"The arena and the team have lost a significant amount of money year over year for the last 10-plus years and the current business model is not sustainable," Cifu said.

The Hockey News reported that the team claims it is losing $30 million per year and has a debt on the arena, which is under lease until 2028 for about $250 million.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief and the county have reportedly hired a consultant to find out if they can allow the team to get out the lease and relocate. A report of the consultant's findings is expected in October.

According to CapGeek.com, the Panthers have more than $65 million committed in player contracts for this season.

"We have kept our end of the bargain by signing six free agents on July 1 to more than $60 million of contracts and re-signing some key young players to multi-year deals," Cifu said.

The Toronto Sun reported that the Panthers ranked 29th in attendance last season with an average of 14,177 per game.

Seattle and Quebec are among the cities where the team may relocate.

Seattle real estate mogul Victor J. Coleman has discussed the possibility of having an NHL team play in his proposed SoDo Arena with Seattle businessman Chris Hansen.

Quebec is set to open a new $400 million arena next year.

"We get lots of expressions of interest -- whether it's from Quebec City, Seattle, Las Vegas, or Kansas City -- and we're listening, but we haven't enacted a formal process to begin considering expansion," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the Toronto Sun in April. "That's not something we're intent on doing right now, but we are listening."

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