The Panthers will appear before the Broward County Commission today, to argue that that the county should spring for $4.2 million to build a new scoreboard. As their neighbors to the south, the Marlins and Dolphins, struggle to win over increasingly skeptical taxpayers, maybe $4.2 million is a little easier to swallow?
The current scoreboard has been in place since the BB&T Center opened in 1998. The arena, as you might expect, was almost entirely paid for by the county. As part of their 30-year lease, the Panthers pay about $4.6 million in rent, and are responsible for its upkeep. This is what team president Michael Yormark means when he says "We have puts tens of millions of dollars into this building since it has opened."
But the county has always been there with loans for arena upgrades, and to help the franchise defer its construction debts. And County Auditor Evan Lukic says the Panthers have profited over $120 million from their lease with the county. Still, Yormark wants a shiny present above center ice.
"We've put enough money into the building,'' Yormark said. "We're not in the position to buy one. If the scoreboard just collapses next year, which I'm sure it will, we just won't have a scoreboard.''
The numbers are likely inflated (if you're paying an average of $185 a night to stay in Fort Lauderdale in late June, you're doing it wrong). But more interesting is the notion that a hockey team's desire for new infrastructure has very little to do with hockey. The Panthers predict that a Jehovah's Witnesses convention will bring in $96 million, or more than three times as much as an NHL All-Star Weekend.
Update: The county commission voted in favor of funding a new scoreboard. It'll look like this: