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Rick Horrow goes beyond the box score to talk sports business and chats with Florida Panthers owner Cliff Viner.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
I'm -- Carl and welcome to beyond the box score -- inside look at the business of sports. Today's guest -- Florida Panthers owner cliff finer. -- it was a minority partner for seven years before becoming chairman CEO and president of the Florida Panthers and 2010. I recently sat down with him at his South Florida office to talk about the future. You are involved in it in the Panthers for. For seven years before He became the the majority owner. Why do you get involvement in the Panthers in the first place. First -- was -- and you know we were lucky enough to be there in 95. Six season with my family -- especially my youngest daughter. Really became a fan from that and so we -- always going to -- games and then. I -- 20022003. When next door neighbor who is president. -- -- at that time Jordan Zimmermann said would you like to community partner so that was terrific and then right after that I was very very lucky. We have an opportunity to refinance the it's and I took the lead and it took about ten months but He got me very very involved with the organization right now. That said that there's no team in the National Hockey League it's more creative Michael -- and his staff then. In the Panthers are as far as NHL marketing. What is the hardest thing to overcome in South Florida is it the fact that. Everybody from somewhere else is it because of the the Dolphins it and He or urged because of all the other distractions. I'll say yes I'll say this number one. People well. People really do like the Panthers we just haven't given them. Enough to cheer about but we really really are. I'm very family oriented. Safe environment. Terrific place to come to watch. A sporting event we give great customer service. You know our Indian experience is terrific it's the most. Family friendly experience. You know I believe out there in the South Florida sports world and we're gonna build on that and I think winning. You will bring all that more than before. That when you win all those things were showing a lot more than the insurance now. Are so let's talk about free agency everybody saw it coming to pull the trigger and in unmitigated success. Did it go to your plan. I think the plan was to be aggressive but we really set. The table. During last season. When we unit that we're able to change our roster. To be able to being in the position. We we have the ability to remake the team in the image that dale wanted. He wanted you know size speed skill and He wanted Carriker and -- had a chance with my accent doesn't -- Torre. And our scouts and we -- Peter how much can Nelson is a true pro scouts. You know the highest -- caliber to go out and get. In effect. A large new roster. A very high quality guys so I think there was very very good in setting the stage last year. And then executed. This year. So we all remember hundreds of years ago the panthers' success has -- a ten year tenure playoff drought we remember bill Lindsay remember that wraps. What are your expectations for the team this year. Well. My expectations of this I believe that we are good enough to compete for a playoff spot. -- hope we will compete for a playoff spot get a class by. But I think now we -- gonna get better and win many other people that we have are between 25 and 29. On the new rosters we have a lot of guys. In their prime who'll get better and then we also can't forget that we're rated as the second best in effect. I'm minor league. Systems that are prospects. Right now as well we've had what was considered the second best draft last year their first best draft the year. Before so we've got 23 prospects we've drafted in just the past. Two years so I think we will get better over time and we're gonna contend for a Stanley Cup. Both talk about the business of the NHL itself. 20042005. Lockout shut down the season NFL just coming off a lockout the NBA. In one -- feel about the stability and the business future of the National Hockey League general. I have to say that when you see -- that. And the team of executives. That He has. They are running the NHL's most disciplined professional. Progressive way. When you look at either our ability to go into new CBA what broadcasting rights. That we've gotten from the US and NBC. What will happen maybe in future years as we look at the Canadian. Broadcast rights and then you take a look at NHL enterprises. Like John Collins and the rest of NHL enterprises has done. Under the stewardship of carrying all the executives there it's extremely. Impressive business. The Panthers have been in the middle of a decade long playoff drought but have been one of the most active teams in free agency this summer let's go inside the numbers to see the five most active. The NHL free agent teams this past few. At number five the Philadelphia Flyers Phillies committed more than sixty million dollars to players this offseason. A majority that money went toward signing goalie Ilya Bryzgalov away from the Phoenix Coyotes. Next to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa -- -- that nearly seventy million dollars in which 38 million went to resigning -- can't coast. Dan Coates is one of the NHL's most marketable players as would -- cover athlete for the 2012. And HL video game. The lightning neighbor to the south Florida Panthers committed number three. Florida had to spend lots of money to get to the salary cap floor. And all told the Panthers spent the staggering 83 million dollars on free agent this summer. That total doesn't include trades for all star Brian Campbell and Chris Versteeg. Second on the list -- the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres opened up the checkbook doling out nearly nine million dollars. Buffalo's spent about two thirds of that money on defenseman Christian -- -- and forward Ville Leino. Finally the NHL team that spent the most money this summer -- New York Rangers. The Rangers committed nearly a hundred million the player contracts including sixty million for this year's premier free agent Brad Richards. Now we'll wait to see if the money translates into titles. -- 2005 the NHL lockout helped set up an economic model that improved the entire business. For three ways the economy affects the business of hockey it's time for bust boom and hope let's Begin with bust. The Columbus Blue Jackets need local casino revenues to offset operating losses in excess of twenty million dollars annually. Over the last three years Columbus has lost 53 million dollars. And more than thirty million of that total has come from unfavorable lease agreement. Now for both. The Red Wings and Miller course extended their longstanding partnership for another five years. As part of the deal Miller -- warming in the official domestic beer of the Red Wings Miller has been a red wings sponsor since 1993. And finally I hope. The Florida Panthers are replacing the entire lower bowl at bank Atlantic center with the red seats is part of the team that we see red marketing campaign. Is seats are being paid to wait three years sponsorship deal with Zimmerman advertising partners. The Panthers are the only team in Florida that's been busy this offseason. My valley -- that week is that Tampa Bay Lightning. Coming off the team's first playoff appearance in four years the lightning has already sold more than 101000 full season ticket packages for next season. Doubling its total from a year ago in addition season ticket renewals are running at nearly 90%. My flock out of the week is the New York Islanders. Nassau County residents rejected a 400 million dollar bond issue that would have built a new hockey arena for the -- With the chances of landing in new arena all but dead Islanders owner Charles Wang has indicated the team likely will relocate. When it's Nassau coliseum lease expires in 2015. Now for my final take. The US open begins with the qualifying tournament next week. Within 250 men and women five for the 32 qualifying positions available. Those entrants will compete against the likes of Roger Federer Rafa Nadal and the Williams sisters for the chance to win a US open record purse. A nearly 24. Million dollars. From a business perspective one individual I'll be watching throughout the tournament is the fifth ranked women's tennis player in the world we now. The 2011 French Open winner is immensely popular in her native China. As a result now has signed more than forty billion dollars in sponsorship deals this year with Mercedes-Benz. Rolex and I can -- Lee has the potential to become the highest earning women in pro sports as early as this year. The league has only one Grand -- or -- a victory at the US open could help her on court wins catch up with their off court success. I'm Rick -- want to join me next week once again we go beyond the box score.