Probably the number one holdup in the expansion process, so we think, is the concern the league has over a few of its struggling franchises.
One such franchise resides in Miami, Florida or Broward County. The Panthers have recently struggled to draw and playing their games in a somewhat dilapidated BB&T Center has cost them money.
So, the Panthers reached out to the county and asked for some financial help to renovate the arena, and in turn, guarantee the Panthers stayed put.
The vote was held Tuesday afternoon.
The commission voted 5-3 to grant the Panthers’ request for an $86 million financial grant that will keep the team in South Florida — and in the county-owned BB&T Center — for the foreseeable future. – George Richard, Miami Herald
This is a massive piece to the NHL expansion puzzle. With Arizona’s situation appearing to be somewhat stable, the league is just left with Carolina as the only remaining problem child. Hurricanes owner, Peter Karmanos, Jr. is on the Board of Governors executive committee, so any necessary information about his club should not be left unknown in any board meetings.
Assuming the league is comfortable with Carolina staying put, they should be able to more confidently, and hopefully quickly, green-light expansion to Las Vegas.
If they are still concerned about the status of the Canes, it would obviously make most sense to move them to Quebec City (keeping them in the Eastern Conference), which frees up the league to add one expansion team now and possibly another (cough, Seattle) later.
Obviously we aren’t quite ready to pop the cork on the champagne and begin the celebration, but things could have gotten really sticky if the Broward County deal fell through. Lucky for us, it didn’t, and now the road to hockey in Las Vegas got a little bit clearer.
One correction, the Florida Panthers play in Sunrise, Florida which is in Broward County. Miami is in Miami-Dade County, not Broward County and the Panthers haven’t played down in Miami in over fifteen years.
Also, this is sort of a joke, the BB&T Center is far from “dilapidated”. Was personally just there on November 21st to see the Panthers versus the NY Rangers and the arena was near max capacity. This amount of fans may not always be the case at the arena, but the Panthers have proven in the past to draw a lot of fans when the team actually fields a good team and plays well. Case in point when the Panthers won their first ever division title back in 2012. That spring the BB&T center was rocking for their seven game playoff series against the eventual Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils.