The Florida Panthers are eager to be high rollers.
All the big casino companies are lining up for the chance to set up shop in South Florida if the Florida Legislature opens the door to Vegas-style gambling. The Panthers believe they offer the best bet for success for any that may decide to take a chance on Broward County.
Panthers President Michael Yormark said Thursday there have been talks with about a dozen casino firms that have shown an interest in building a gaming resort on the 90 acres adjacent to BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise.
“I will tell you that amongst all the companies that we’ve spoken to or met with, and we’ve talked to most of them, the consensus is this is the premier site in Broward County,” Yormark said, citing the presence of the arena, Sawgrass Mills shopping mall, the available land and access to major highways as the chief selling points. “Combined it creates one compelling package. That’s what we’ve been told.
“Unlike east Fort Lauderdale or any site that might be east of I-95, there’s really no congestion here. You’ve got the infrastructure that could actually accommodate a facility like what we’re talking about. We’ve already proven that the site can facilitate a large amount of people in light of the arena being here.”
The Panthers’ site would have to be considered a long shot at this point because casino operators have expressed a preference for Miami out of the belief they have a better chance to make money there. That could change if the casino is amended to back off on the requirement for operators to make a $2 billion investment.
The Miami Dolphins are also looking to get in on the casino action with land adjacent to Sun Life Stadium. NFL rules prohibit teams from owning casinos, it’s apparently OK to lease land for them.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is attempting to do that so Steve Wynn can build a $1 billion casino next to Gillette Stadium. While the NFL may be OK with such a partnership, residents of Foxborough, Mass., are seeing red over the plan.
The Panthers, whose motto is “We see red,” are intrigued by the potential for all the green to be made with a casino on their doorstep. The NHL has no objection.
“I think the quality of our site speaks for itself,” Yormark said. “I think it would complement what we currently have here. We’re in the entertainment business with the Panthers and all of our event programming. … We’re exploring the opportunity and we’re going to watch what happens up in Tallahassee closely.”