Florida Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu admits his team is bleeding money and that the franchise lost about $114,000 per day last season.
Cifu appeared on TSN 1290 radio in Winnipeg and discussed his team's financial picture in a wide-ranging interview.
Cifu, who says he was a huge hockey fan growing up on Long Island, NY, admits his team will continue to lose money in 2014-15, but to a lesser extent than a year ago.
One thing that Cifu and business partner Vincent Viola have done this season is eliminate discounted and complimentary tickets. In this respect, Cifu acknowleges that while attendance is down, the "net intake has not suffered."
However, on Oct. 13, the announced attendance of 7,311 for a game against the Ottawa Senators was the lowest in franchise history.
Shawn Thornton, who signed a two-year deal with the Panthers in the offseason, told DJ Bean of radio station WEEI 93.7 FM that he doesn't pay much attention to the empty seats.
“I’ve played [expletive] Sunday afternoons in Lowell and there was 14 people in the building, and probably eight of them were wives,” Thornton said when reached by phone this week. “I think after nine years in the minors, I don’t really pay attention to the crowd that much anyways when I’m out there. I can block it out.”
Despite the fact that the team continues to lose money, Cifu emphasized that they have actually increased their investment on the hockey operations side. He pointed out that the Panthers' payroll increased over the summer and now sits at around $65 million U.S.
While the team still has a long way to go on the marketing side, and is often mentioned in musings about relocation, Cifu said he is excited and optimistic about the product on the ice.