Yes, the Florida Panthers have “lost tremendous amounts of money” during the last decade-plus, but their still-relatively-new ownership group aims to change that.
At least, that’s the unusually candid message that Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu expressed in an open letter to Panthers fans on Wednesday:
As we close in on the one-year anniversary of our ownership of the Florida Panthers, we want to reiterate our commitment to Broward County, South Florida and our Panthers fans and business partners. As we said at the press conference when we bought the team, we view ourselves as stewards of the team for the community and our plan is to build an organization that makes South Florida proud and to win the Stanley Cup in South Florida. Despite media speculation to the contrary, we have no plans or intentions to move this franchise.
We made a commitment to the Panthers and to South Florida when we bought the team to build a successful organization on and off the ice. We have been working hard to live up to that commitment. Starting with the trade to bring Roberto Luongo, one of the world’s top goaltenders, back home to South Florida, and continuing with our committing over $80 million to new players, including bringing six talented veteran free agents to South Florida and resigning all of our restricted free agents, we have dedicated ourselves to improving the team. Off the ice, we continue to expand our community outreach initiatives and look forward to continue to contribute to the quality of life for residents.
It is no secret that the Panthers and BB&T Center have lost tremendous amounts of money over the last dozen years. We are working hard to address this situation, which we believe we can do with the support from our loyal fans, our business partners, the business community and our community-at-large.
We look forward to a winning season and bringing a Stanley Cup to South Florida.
With Warm Regards,
Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu, Co-Owners
Consider this something of a “vote of confidence” after Cifu expressed concern about the team’s long-term viability considering such losses.
Back in January, the team asked the county to offset $20-$30 million in annual losses, which didn’t go over too well at first. Broward County is reportedly researching a request which might swell to $80 million when various losses are added up.
Long story short, there are a lot of questions surrounding the future of the team and the intentions of its owners, so it’s easy to see why they’re trying to generate goodwill with fans.
Naturally, the best way to fill seats is to do something that’s been easier said than done for the Cats: win games.