Florida Panthers owner calls franchise 'unsustainable'

Brad Boyes #24 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by teammates after scoring a second-period...

Brad Boyes #24 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated by teammates after scoring a second-period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the BB&T Center on April 10, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images/AFP)

QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:26 PM ET

Florida Panthers owner Doug Cifu wants to keep his floundering NHL franchise in South Florida.

It just might not make financial sense.

Recently asked where the Panthers will be in 5-10 years, Cifu wouldn't say.

“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 told Fox Sports last weekend.

Currently losing $30 million annually, the Panthers have a lease to stay in the BB&T Center through 2028. The club’s debt is roughly $250 million, the Hockey News reported Monday.


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Broward County mayor Barbara Sharief recently hired a consultant to determine the feasibility of the Panthers relocating, thereby breaking the lease agreement.

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

The Panthers averaged 14,177 fans per game last season, bad enough for 29th in the league.

In terms of relocation, potential owners in Seattle have reached out to the NHL about bringing another franchise to the Pacific Northwest.

“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 said in April. “That’s not something we’re intent on doing right now, but we are listening.”

Quebec City is also believed to be a frontrunner in negotiations to bring NHL hockey back the city that was once home to the Quebec Nordiques. An NHL-ready arena is scheduled to open in the Quebec capital next year.


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