Panthers announce sale of franchise to Vincent Viola, Doug Cifu

By Brian Stubits |

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The Florida Panthers have new owners in Vincent Viola and Doug Cifu. The team was officially sold and the new owners were introduced in South Florida on Friday.

Viola, a New Yorker who was once a co-owner of the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, along with Cifu buys the franchise and all of the components of Sunrise Sports and Entertainment from Cliff Viner, the primary owner who was once a season-ticket holder for the Panthers. They also reportedly purchased the shares of all the minority owners.

First and foremost, let's get this out of the way: This does not mean the Panthers are going to be relocated. It's quite the opposite, in fact. This should only further cement the Panthers in Florida and help them attempt to turn the fortunes of the franchise around.

"We intend to be here a long time and become an integral part of this community," Cifu said.

"It is great for the NHL to be here in South Florida," Bettman said. "All indications are that the future will be exceedingly bright." Bettman also said that now the Panthers have all the tools to win.

Viola takes over as the Panthers' new chairman, principal owner and governor while Cifu becomes the vice chairman, partner and alternate governor. Michael Yormark -- you remember him -- will now serve as the President and CEO.

Chris Botta reported the total sale price was $250 million. The ownership of the franchise is more than just hockey, though, as SSE has the operating rights to the BB&T Center. So concerts and other events at the arena, of which there are many, are also under their domain. The organization has a lease with Broward County through 2028.

It's been an exciting week for the Panthers, who also signed former Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Tim Thomas to a one-year contract to share the net with young prospect Jacob Markstrom.

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