MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers haven’t played a regular season game this year, but they may be about to get a brand new boss.
A source confirmed to CBS4 Sports’ Kim Bokamper that the Panthers are close to being sold to New York businessman Vinnie Viola. Letters of intent have been executed but the league must still approve the deal.
The sale is expected to be finalized with a final price between $220 and $230 million.
Forbes placed a value of $170 million on the Panthers franchise last season. Forbes reported the team had an operating income of negative $12 million and ranked it the 24th most valuable NHL franchise.
According to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, Viola is a hedgefund manager who has also served as chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange in the past. Viola is also chairman of Virtu Financial and was previously a minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
South Florida’s NHL team is currently owned by businessman Cliff Viner, who bought the franchise in 2009. The Panthers are celebrating the team’s 20th anniversary this season, but has struggled mightily for the better part of the last decade.
The Panthers may lose money, but CBSSPorts.com reported that with the team being part of a larger venture with the BB&T Center, it’s a profitable investment.
The sale is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks and there are no plans to move the team. Florida has a lease with the BB&T Center that runs through 2028.
What will be interesting to see if Viola is willing to give general manager Dale Tallon enough money to turn the team into a winner in the league.
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