Fort Lauderdale mayor, vice mayor weigh in on Panthers bailout

Mayor Jack Seiler, Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts speak about proposed $80 million bailout


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said Thursday he was getting an earful about the Florida Panthers request for an $80 million taxpayers' bailout from Broward County.

"Most of the people from the business community, the hoteliers, the restaurants, those people that rely on tourism have been very opposed to any dollars going out," said Seiler.

So has Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts.

"A lot of constituents I represent are more concerned quite, frankly, about beach renourishment," said Roberts.

"Most of the feedback you've gotten from constituents is negative toward the bailout," Local 10's Bob Norman said to Roberts.

"I would say in the areas I represent, yes, especially along the beach area, yes," said Roberts.

It's been enough for Seiler on Thursday to say he's opposing the bailout.

"As of right now, the information I've seen I do not support the Panthers' current request," said Seiler.

The Panthers new owners are seeking the $80 million for free rent at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

Related: Should Broward County give Florida Panthers $80 million bailout?

Seiler and the rest of the commission won't have a vote in the controversy, but the city generates more than half of the bed tax dollars that the Panthers want.

"We think the beach is a big part of that. We think the beach generates most of that economic impact," said Seiler.

A long-delayed project to restore Broward beaches has been the rallying cry those that oppose the bailout -- and so far Hollywood and Deerfield Beach, along with Plantation and Davie -- have come out officially against it. But Seiler and Roberts both said their city is taking its time before coming out with an official position.

"Obviously, we want to see these dollars used for beach renourishment used for tourism purposes," said Seiler.

Another city, Wilton Manors, has just added its name to the list of cities that officially oppose the Panthers bailout.