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Broward County > Government > District 6 - Sue Gunzburger
 In The News...
Commissioners at topping off on new County Courthouse
Broward Commissioners Tour New Courthouse as Construction Reaches Milestone

The new Broward County Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale is well on its way to completion and will soon be one of the largest courthouse facilities in the nation when it opens next summer. More... 

Should Smoking be Prohibited in County Parks?
Take Survey

Commissioners at Port Everglades
Port Everglades Moves Forward with Expansion Plans
Broward County Commissioners joined federal and state lawmakers today to laud the U.S. House of Representatives' passage of H.R. 3080, The Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA). This legislation will authorize Broward County to pre-fund the preliminary activities necessary to widen and deepen Port Everglades with federal reimbursement, pending Congressional authorization, at a later date.
 Message from the Commissioner

Et Tu Panthers?”

Broward County has owned the BB&T Center (Arena) in Sunrise since its construction in 1996. It was built using $184.1M in revenue bonds backed by County collected Tourist Development Taxes, or bed tax, levied on hotel/motel room bills and certain other short term rentals. The Arena is the largest in Florida and a major multi-purpose entertainment and sports venue. The Florida Panthers, through four (4) different ownerships, have been the sole professional sports tenant.

Since January, the Panthers new owners have asked for a complete restructuring of their existing financial obligations to Broward County’s taxpayers for their share of the Arena’s debt service, operation and maintenance. The highlights of the Panthers’ “asks” are:

No longer contribute $4.6M annual rent payment currently applied solely to annual debt service. County would instead utilize an additional $4.6M in public funds/bed taxes to meet the $14.6M total annual debt service. Cap their costs for the Arena’s annual windstorm insurance premiums to the first $1M. County’s taxpayers would be responsible for all costs exceeding the cap, an estimated $600,000 annual increase to taxpayers. Have County pay Arena’s first $500,000 for repairs and maintenance, another half-million dollar annual increase to taxpayers. Reduce by 50 per cent Panthers’ $500,000 annual contribution to the Arena’s Capital Reserve Fund, another quarter-million dollar annual increase to taxpayers.

The Arena is halfway through its estimated 35-year economic useful life. Coupled with the remaining years of debt service to retire the bonds, the Panthers’ “asks” equate to some $75 to $80M more from Broward County taxpayers over the next 15 years.

For these “asks” the Panthers proffer:

Accelerate by three (3) years paying off some $10M in debt restructuring loans previously granted. Seek additional revenue producing Arena events, continue supporting small business benefitting directly or indirectly from the Arena, and provide a training and workforce scholarship program. Improve the competitiveness of the hockey team itself. During the winter months relocate to Fort Lauderdale an exploration/research vessel in partnership with NSU. Develop a 22-acre parcel on the Arena’s north side as a mixed-use project including a hotel and possibly a casino, if state law ever permits same.

So far, I have seen nothing in the Panthers’ “asks” and/or “proffers” that are of any “equal or greater” benefit to Broward County taxpayers. I am very concerned any reallocation of public bed tax monies for the Panthers’ “asks” would jeopardize our beach renourishment project(s) funding capabilities. However, I would welcome your perspective on the above by sending me an e-mail to sgunzburger@broward.org, or by calling my office at 954-357-7006.

Finally, let me close with my best wishes for a Happy Passover and a Happy Easter!

Sue Guzburger signature

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