Florida Panthers Sold to New York Businessman for $240 Million
The Florida Panthers officially have a new owner: New York businessman and bazillionare, Vincent Viola.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Panthers have been sold for $240 million by Cliff Viner and Sunrise Sports & Entertainment to a group led by Viola.
The team has yet to officially announce the sale, though they have called a press conference for Friday.
Viola is a Brooklyn native, a graduate of West Point, and the former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
He is currently the chairman and CEO of Virtu Financial, an electronic trading firm.
Viola had been linked to purchasing the then-New Jersey Nets back in 2009.
A graduate of West Point U.S. Army Ranger School in 1977 with a B.S. degree, Viola served as an officer in the 101st Airborne.
He also played a major role in helping the New York Merchantile Exchange through the turmoil following the 9/11 attacks, and founded and financed the Counter-Terrorism Center at West Point soon after.
Viola has also built up a reputation of being mysterious, while working tirelessly as a philanthropist.
So, there you have it. Our local hockey team has been bought by Bruce Wayne.
Viola may have to flex his Batman-like muscles to fix things. He's buying himself a hockey team that has been historically crappy, have only made the NHL playoffs once in the last five seasons, finished with the fewest points in the NHL last season, and, according to Forbes, have had an operating loss of $12 million for the 2011-12 season and was worth $170 million.
So, the Panthers -- and Panther fans -- seem to be getting a fresh start with an owner who seems to have deep pockets. Even if he is a bit misterioso.
Thus far, there have been no indications that Viola and his group plan on moving the team, nor should there be.
Despite the losses, the team is believed to be a profitable venture, particularly if Viola opens his pockets to make the team competitive.
If anything, attendance can only go up from here.
Incidentally, Wayne Huizenga, who bought the expansion team for $50 million in 1992, is still a minority investor. It's not clear if he'll remain so once Viola takes over.