The prospective buyer of the Florida Panthers franchise has been identified as Vincent Viola, the CEO of Virtu Financial, according to multiple reports on Wednesday evening. Viola is the former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and had previously acted as a minority owner of the New York Nets franchise.
The sale price is at $230 million and Viola is believed to be looking to buyout several of the team's minority owners, according to Barry Jackson and George Richards of the Miami Herald. Jackson and Richards also write that letters of intent have been executed but the transaction still requires approval from the NHL. While there is potential for the deal to fall through, both sides have mutual interest in finalizing the transaction. The NHL is hoping that a new owner can turn around a franchise that has lost $20 million per season in recent years, according to Jackson and Richards.
Josh Kosman of the New York Post was the first to report on the sale of the Florida franchise. He believes the team can be profitable in Miami without having to relocate and break its BB&T Arena lease that goes through 2028. Kosman wrote that the two sides are looking to close the deal within the next two weeks and that Viola has already begun progress towards retaining "key personnel," including offering a new contract to Panthers CEO Michael Yormark.
Viola was not available for comment.