Broward County leaders discuss proposed Florida Panthers bailout at Tower Forum

NHL team wants $86 million in hotel bed tax money over next 14 years


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County leaders hit Tower Forum in Fort Lauderdale to talk about the Florida Panthers, who want big bucks in tourist tax dollars to help them operate in the black at the BB&T Center.

"We're not asking to cover all our expenses. We're asking for the county to help," said Rory Babich, president of the Florida Panthers.

Right now the county forks over $8 million a year, the state kicks in $2 million and the Panthers pay $4.5 million for construction costs, property taxes and insurance.

The team now wants $86 million in hotel bed tax money over the next 14 years.

Related: Should county give Panthers $80 million bailout?

"They are currently getting 16 percent of the annual bed tax revenues and the request would put it to a third, which is very high," said Kevin Speidel, area management director.

The Panthers said they continue to draw new visitors to the area, but despite that are losing $30 million a year and to top that, ticket sales are low.

"We do believe for residents, tourists that it is an attractive proposition for the team to be successful, for the arena to be successful," said Babich.