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BROWARD (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers were given a slap on the wrist Wednesday for their financial shortcomings and then granted $4.2 million by the Broward County commission to fund a new scoreboard.
The proposal passed with a 6-2 vote from the commission, who decided that reserves from the Tourist Development Tax will fund the project.
Florida Panthers president Michael Yormark took responsibility for the team’s incomplete financial records, He also said that the new scoreboard at the BB&T Center could help increase tourism and economic development, according to CBS partner The Miami Herald.
“It’s about creating more visibility for Broward County. We had a very strong case,” said Yormark. “We have developed a strong partnership with Broward County; I thought we were going to get a fair shot, and we did.”
County auditor Evan Lukic felt that the Panthers should have paid for their own scoreboard because it wouldn’t benefit the county.
Lukic also spoke before the Panthers made their presentation for a new scoreboard and master control center to replace equipment the building opened with in 1998. During his address he brought up financial inconsistencis between the three companies that comprise the Panthers organization.
One of the companies was said to have overpaid the Panthers $4.2 million on arena returns yet underfunded its reserve accounts, according to the paper.
One of the accounts that should have $2 million has a whopping balance of just $163.81. Another account that is supposed to have $3.3 million has a balance of $6,712.41, Lukic told the paper.
The Panthers and the county have a complex profit sharing agreement in which Broward basically gets 20 percent of every dollar over the first $12 million the team clears, according to the paper.
Yormark promised the situation would be taken care of by Aug. 31, and the county agreed. He said that this accounting issue didn’t affect how the Panthers pay the county or does business.
“We’ve been a wonderful partner with the county,” said Yormark.
The city’s commission also voted in the Panthers favor on Tuesday when CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nicki Grossman, told them a massive Jehovah’s Witness international convention would not come to South Florida in 2014 without updated audio and video capabilities at the arena.
The convention, held over the course of four weekends in the summer is said to bring in $96 million in economic impact to the county. With that many people coming to South Florida, the arena still isn’t big enough to hold all of those attending the convention.
“This is the first time in which the status of their scoreboard crept into my vision,” said Grossman. “If we could have fit the Jehovah’s Witness convention into the convention center, we wouldn’t be here. They needed the larger venue and needed the scoreboard for their communications with other conventions.”
The NHL is also expected to bring its draft weekend to Sunrise within the next three years, NHL’s general counsel, David Zimmerman, told the Herald.
The scoreboard will be ordered immediately and up by the Panthers’ preseason game in mid-September, said the paper.
“When you look at what we’ve done to our building over the past decade, this is the final piece,” Yormark told the Herald. “To have this behind us, to open our 20th anniversary season with a new scoreboard is exciting. The experience is going to be enhanced.”
The old scoreboard will possibly be donated to a local high school.
The Miami Herald has contributed to this report.