The Florida Panthers hadn’t qualified for the NHL playoffs since the 1999-2000 season, that streak however came to an end last season. South Florida is notorious for having “bandwagon” fans, whether it be with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, NBA’s Miami Heat or the newly renamed Miami Marlins of MLB. The Panthers are no different of course and with last season’s success fans flocked to the BankAtlantic Center, especially during the playoffs. So what could a lockout in 2012-2013 mean for the Florida Panthers?
With the team being hyped last season as one of the best in franchise history, fans went to games to witness it for themselves. Some former Panther fans who may have given up on the team after years of disappointment, or new found hockey fans who took notice due to the success. With the absence of hockey in South Florida a possibility this season the Panthers could easily lose the attention they gained as fans take notice to the other 3 major sports teams in the area, especially the Heat who are coming off of their recent NBA title. The odds of those fans coming back to watch the Panthers would hinge on it being a success from the very start whenever hockey resumes, and if you’ve followed the Panthers for a while you’ll know even the best of its teams were never consistent.
In order for this team to thrive it needs to pick up where it left off and hit the ground running in 2012-2013. Revenue will flood in as fans look to see a winning team, with the South East Division Champion banner set to be raised on opening night. Jersey’s and merchandise will be sold, especially as new fans come in, attendance will go up from the 1,000 more seats they filled in 2011-2012. Not to mention the fact that the team will now be charging for parking for the first time in roughly 5 years. With full season ticket holders receiving free parking, half season receiving 50% off and mini-season holders getting 25% off that still leaves room for major income. Estimate they take in roughly $75,000 in parking per game, that’s an extra $3,000,000 the team is receiving that they hadn’t before.
With all of the new income being generated the team could easily turn things around and make a profit, owners may be more willing to spend big money on free agency and the team will only get better from there. Teams like Florida need play to continue on, no matter how much money owners may think they’re getting in negotiating a new CBA, turning teams like Florida around will be much more beneficial. The Los Angeles Kings being another team that would greatly benefit from no lockout as they come off their recent Stanley Cup victory. Fans in Southern California took notice more so than before as they went on their playoff run to their first ever championship and the organization needs that momentum heading into the season to continue.
Owners may look at lockouts and see themselves getting more income instantly, but they fail to realize that overall they’d receive higher revenue by keeping a consistent product on the ice and producing. As the old saying goes, “You have to spend money to make money” unfortunately the owners currently want to have their cake and eat it too.