It was no secret the Florida Panthers were facing significant financial trouble, but a report from Le Journal de Montreal says the team’s losses are more than $150 million in less than two decades.
According to Le Journal’s Renaud Lavoie, the Panthers have lost an eye-popping $154 million since 1997-98. Lavoie reported that, as part of a 305-page document submitted to Broward County, the Panthers gave a look into the team’s finances. Their worst financial season came in 2014-15, Lavoie said, when the Panthers lost $36 million, and the team is projecting losses to reach $24 million this season.
It’s not hard to understand why the Panthers have had such financial issues, though.
After entering the league in 1993-94, Florida were competitive in a hurry, going on an incredible post-season run in 1995-96 that saw them oust the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins en route to the 1996 Stanley Cup final. However, they were swept in the final by the Colorado Avalanche and were beaten out 4-1 by the New York Rangers in the first round the following season. That’s when the slide began.
Since 1997-98, when the Panthers finished 19 games below .500 and 12th in the Eastern Conference, no team has had a lower winning percentage. In 1,368 games, the Panthers have picked up just 530 victories. The Panthers have only made the post-season twice in the 17 seasons since 1997-98 and went on a 10-season playoff drought from 2000-01 to 2010-11.
The finances were released as part of the Panthers’ request for financial help from the county. In 2013-14, the Panthers asked for $78 million, but that ask has since been upped to $86 million, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Florida’s request for the funds may be on its way to being accepted, too.
The Sun-Sentinel’s Brittany Wallman reported one week ago that the Panthers request will move forward after Broward County commissioners said they were, “interested in exploring a possible aid package,” for the Cats. The next phase in the potential funding will come at a special meeting in November.
"This is an opportunity for us to keep a team here," Broward mayor Tim Ryan said, according to Wallman. " ... It means something for Broward County to have a professional team within our boundaries. That stands for something, in my view."
The Panthers are slowly turning things around now, though, which could help the team’s finances. With a roster full of promising young talent, Florida made a push for the post-season in 2014-15 and have been impressive so far this season.
Attendance numbers have also looked better this season, as the Panthers have averaged 14,628 fans in three home outings. That’s a significant boost from last season’s miserable average of 11,265. Capacity-wise, that’s 85.8 percent attendance, according to ESPN, which ranks ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. Lavoie reported season ticket sales for the Panthers also increased by roughly 3,000, which is the biggest increase in the league.