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Florida Panthers 24th in NHL at $170M; Maple Leafs top Forbes list at $1 billion

The gulf is wide between the haves and have-nots in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs topping the list as the league’s first $1 billion franchise in the Forbes rankings of the 30 teams.

The Florida Panthers, not surprisingly among the lower echelon, nonetheless moved up two spots in 2012 to 24th with a slight increase in value to $170 million. Forbes attributed that to better performance by the team that produced the first playoff appearance since 2000.

Despite a 6-percent boost in attendance, The Panthers ended $12 million in the red, according to Forbes, which said the team’s gate receipts were among the league’s lowest due to huge giveaways of tickets.

The Panthers also ranked last in local television audience with just 13,400 viewers per game for 2011-12. Forbes noted that the Panthers will benefit from a more lucrative cable deal beginning this year along with the 10-year extension on the naming rights deal with BB&T that is expected to net the team $37 million.

However, the lockout by the owners has the entire 2012-13 season in jeopardy. The Panthers were counting on a revenue boost from the new Club Red premium seating area.

So far the league has canceled 422 regular-season games, including the Winter Classic, plus the All-Star Game. In a hard-nosed stance in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, NHL owners are aiming to significantly lower payrolls costs. Players receive 57 percent of hockey-related revenue, which Forbes estimated at $3.4 billion for 2011-12.

The players, in stating their case that the system is working well as it stands, can point to the league's 9-percent increase in revenue from the previous year. During that time the average value of NHL teams increased 18 percent to $282 million, Forbes said.

The Panthers ranked just behind the Tampa Bay Lighting, valued at $174 million. The St. Louis Blues were last at $130 million.

Cliff Viner purchased the Panthers for $200 million in 2009.

Categories: Florida Panthers (113)

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About the author
CRAIG DAVIS In more than 33 years at the Sun Sentinel, Craig Davis has written about a wide variety of sports topics from baseball to yachting, fishing to triathlons, and also worked as a copy editor and page designer. Recently he reported on local sports, including running, swimming, cycling, equestrian and beach volleyball. He enjoys sports as a participant as well as a spectator, is active in the South Florida running scene plays in the curling club at Saveology Iceplex. This blog offers a glimpse at the business side of sports in the interest of enhancing enjoyment of the games and sporting options as a spectator as well as a participant.
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