HFT Firm CEO Seeks Taxpayer Dollars To Save His Hockey Team

Tyler Durden's picture

The Florida Panthers finished this season with the 2nd lowest points total in the NHL and drew the 2nd lowest average attendance of 14,200 fans per home game. The team is losing $25 million annually. All of this is the exact opposite situation of the team's owner - Vincent Viola of HFT firm Virtu Financial infamy. As Bloomberg reports, Viola, whose high-frequency trading firm plans to raise millions in an initial public offering next month, is seeking tax dollars to help cover the bills for the hockey team he bought six months ago. Viola asked lawmakers in South Florida’s Broward County to use $64 million in taxpayer funds for arena bond payments owed by the team. In addition to taking over bond payments, which would be made over the next 14 years, the team wants concessions that would cost county taxpayers another $14 million in the same period.


As Bloomberg reports, officials in Broward, which encompasses Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast, disagree on how to proceed, with some saying that if they don’t pick up the tab, the team may move and leave taxpayers with $225 million in debt and an empty arena.

"If we lose the Panthers and the arena operators, we would devalue our asset," said Broward Mayor Barbara Sharief, referring to the $220 million BB&T Center arena near Fort Lauderdale. "The building could stay vacant for six months out of the year. That’s a significant loss."


The value of the 20,000-seat arena would drop 70 percent if the Panthers fold or relocate, Sharief said. The arena would probably lose its concert promoter, Live Nation Entertainment Inc., and forfeit a $2 million annual state subsidy.

iola has been owner since September...

The team, in its current location since the 1998-99 season, was sold to Viola and Douglas Cifu, Virtu’s CEO, in September for $250 million, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Team CEO Rory Babich declined to comment.


The team is losing $25 million annually, according to a county review.

But everyone involves expects the taxpayer handout...

With more tax money, the Panthers could recruit better players, said Babich, the team CEO. The county could share the profits, he said.


In addition to taking over bond payments, which would be made over the next 14 years, the team wants concessions that would cost county taxpayers another $14 million in the same period.


Babich wouldn’t say whether the team would move if it doesn’t get a bigger subsidy. He said the team expects to reach a “satisfactory’’ resolution with Broward.

So the big question is - why does Viola need US taxpayer help when his firm (and his pocketbook) is exploding with holy grail cash? Or is that, in a nutshell, how one gets rich in this new normal... take the profits and let government take the downside.

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Savvy's picture

Luongo! LMAO!!!

john39's picture

never understood hockey in the south...   superficial corporate fan base.  not much staying power.  let it die.

ndotken's picture

The idiot was stupid enough to buy a hockey team in South Florida ... he deserves whatever punishment is inflicted on him

ndotken's picture

Viola is the same asshole that is trying to sell his 20,000 sq ft home in NYC (for which he paid $20 million) for $114 million.  Some people's greed has no limits.

Bananamerican's picture

Fuck hockey...
And that hockey puck wealthy-fare queen Viola

zaphod's picture

I like hockey

But $64M to of public money to sponsor an event only 14,000 people go to is a bit absurd. That fact that people can even ask for this with a straight face is a problem.

Four chan's picture

ipo right before the sec cracks down. that scammer must have been mad as hell the day those guys blew up hft's on cnbc. lol.

James_Cole's picture

BB&T centre, cost $200M built in 1998 so Pathners had a home. Nice for taxpayers to regularly bail out rich sports team owners I suppose?


Spitzer's picture


Panthers payroll

Campbell, Brian » $7,142,875
Jovanovski, Ed » 35+ $4,125,000
Luongo, Roberto » RSA
Fleischmann, T. » $4,500,000  
StandardDeviant's picture

$1 of "public" money to sponsor any sporting event, whatever the attendance, is a crime.  Buy your own damn ticket!

Richardk888's picture

Maybe they can play the Bahamian Hockey team in an exhibition game to help raise funds. 

I bet there are tens of people interested in supporting a hockey team in the state of FL.

StychoKiller's picture

Hmm, why not start a Rollerball league instead?  Johnathon E is a free agent...

Crawdaddy's picture

Southern big shot Freemasons need love too. Must. Keep. Joe Sixpack. Distracted.

Silver Bug's picture

Wow this is pathetic and at the same time laughable. What has the world come to?



steelhead23's picture

Maybe they should sell Luongo.  Look, this may be hockey, but Viola is playing hardball.  So, here's the deal - DON'T GIVE THIS JACKASS A CENT!  Let the bondholders take possession of arena.  Please tell me you didn't pay for it using GO bonds.  If you did, it may be time to move - or commit suicide.  

OpenThePodBayDoorHAL's picture

How many troughs does this fucker Vinnie Viola need to feed at? I mean snort snort HFT snort snort taxpayer handouts snort snort snort little piggy. Is there a better example of exactly and precisely what is WRONG with this country? Can't we revoke his citizenship and make him go live in Venezuela or something?

Freddie's picture

Here you go boys and girls:


They reported in March 2014 that during five years they made profit 1277 out of 1278 days, losing money just one day.

One losing trading day in 5 years and they bought this turkey hockey team?  Move it to NJ.


Crawdaddy's picture

Die HFT huckster die. While we are at it, every pro team owner can go suck a bag of dicks. The whole bunch is nothing but a band of masonic state loving grifters.

TeamDepends's picture

The smooth move would be to pull up stakes, move to Alaska and start a baseball franchise.

Spitzer's picture

The fucking Panthers won the draft lottery TODAY


0b1knob's picture

The guy who ran Blackberry (into the ground) was in the market for a hockey team.   Perhaps he could sell it to him.

Bindar Dundat's picture

He also built it from nothing jerk ass.

Vice's picture

Isn't the NHL considered a nonprofit and so it's exempt from taxes?

So he makes his money in HFT now while the panthers have a shit losing streak. Then spend billions on the team when the HFT game is up, and with rapid improvement comes more fradualent tax evasive money to line his pockets with. 

same as it ever was

mumbo_jumbo's picture

not sure about the NHL but the NFL is nonprofit

what a weird world we live in.

NoDebt's picture

Non-profit is where ALL the profit is.  I've been trying to figure out how to reclassify my advisory business as non-profit for the last 2 years.

pigs-n-space's picture

WTF , the wheels can't come off the wagon soon enough. If I cant pay my bills and don't have extra cash to spend, I go without. What audacity, let the chips fall and those of us that can take care of our own will. The rest can rot. No more bailouts on anything (fucking period)........  

logicalman's picture

I'm rarely lost for words ...................

NoDebt's picture

I feel you on that.  It's like a kidnapper pointing a gun at the hostage's head and saying "continue to misallocate resources to my personal project or the economy gets it!"

Fuck this asshole.  This situation could be fixed with one well-placed match.


yogibear's picture

He'll probably get it. The taxpayers are busy veging out  on Hollywood trash,

And by the way, no need to pay it back.

Another $17 trillion in debt and an off-load of the bad debt to the taxpayer.

State politicians know they can just spend more and get higher taxes.

Dr. Engali's picture

I don't know, but ice hockey in sunny Florida might have a small part to play in your problem. Oh, and I've never seen a panther in ice so maybe a name change is in order.

Thermopylae's picture

"maybe a name change is in order"

Outstanding idea!   Change it to the Florida Traitors (um, I mean Traders).

THen he should go out and sign the biggest thugs the league has ever known, tell them to play dirty and fuck all the rules of the game, thumbing their noses at the refs.

ESPN will do a "30 for 30" on them titled "Slapshot2"

booboo's picture

Ever seen a Solar Bear?

Sarconomy's picture

What we need is some good old-fashioned relegation.  Works wonders to rid soccer leagues of their dross in the rest of the world.

BringingTheRukus's picture

Another reason to hate Gary bettman and his expansion dreams!


SmackDaddy's picture

Columbus and Minneapolis deserved teams....   I think hockey may slowly turn the tide on football in Ohio.  Happening in my house.  I played football for a D1 HS in Ohio.  Always disliked the game though.  Wasnt fun to play.  I told my son the only way he plays football is if he can join the team his jr year of high school and start right away.  You simply dont need all that practive in football, so long as you are one of the top sprinters in your school and weight 180+.  Hockey, on the other hand, you gotta start em young.  It's actually fun to play and he'll have better chances at a scholarship.

Semi-employed White Guy's picture

I live in Florida. We don't give a fuck about hockey.  Leave you fucking fucker and take your faggots on ice with you!

nmewn's picture

Its just how we roll.

Solar companies sue federal government because federal government didn't ASS RAPE Floridians (and by extension ALL taxpayers) hard enough.


Its really all in ones perspective, isn't it?

Oh yeah, its Elon Musk, dick face that he is.

Offthebeach's picture

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

Hungarian Pengos's picture

So move the team up to Quebec, Hamilton, Seattle, or Kansas City and make a ton of money.  Why is there an NHL team in Miami anyway?

StychoKiller's picture

Yo, is yer avatar Miley Cyrus' behind?  (Not that I would know of such things...)

Joebloinvestor's picture

Al Davis still holds the record for fleecing.

StychoKiller's picture

Isn't that offense a ten-yard penalty?

Dr. Engali's picture

Looks like Dr. Paul has made some enemies in the IRS:

Ron Paul group to defy IRS


GoinFawr's picture

In related news the owner of an allegedly 'professional' tar sands fueled team scraping the bottom of the standings is getting roughly a cool 1/2 billion from the taxpayers for a new arena to replace what appears to be a perfectly sound one already in operation. It's a 'small market' city with ~1,000,000 folks in it all apparently willing, after being held hostage, to chip in about 500 visages of the queen apiece down to every man, woman and child for the privilege, whether they could give two shits about cheering G'Oilers! or no.

On his way to the bank Billionaire Daryl Katz was heard to exclaim, "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahha!"

robertocarlos's picture

You should shop at Rexall and get 5 dollars off purchases over 25 dollars.  Then you'd like Katz.

GoinFawr's picture

I would, but I'm not sure the humvee's suspension can handle navigating the cratered moonscape the locals refer to as 'pavement' in that burg.

Grinder74's picture

Yeah but for some reason, the women in Edmonton are scorching hawt.  I never understood it while working there; just enjoyed it.