Panthers Draw The Interest Of Florida Buyers

Posted: February 07, 1996

Lowell ``Bud'' Paxson, co-founder of TV's Home Shopping Network, might make a bid for the Florida Panthers, according to an investment partner.

Palm Beach Gardens millionaire Bruce Frey said he talked yesterday morning about his and Paxson's interest in the team with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Frey also spoke with a representative of Panthers owner H. Wayne Huizenga - Rick Rochon, president of Huizenga Holdings Inc.

Frey has expressed interest in the Panthers off and on for months, but this is the first time he has done so in partnership with Paxson. Frey reversed his position from a week ago, when he said he was out of the bidding.

``We have an interest because the situation has changed,'' Frey said.

On Jan. 30, Broward County decided to proceed with a $212 million arena, making the team more attractive, Frey said.

And, five days earlier, Paxson became a 50 percent owner of Frey's West Palm Beach arena football team, the Florida Bobcats. At that time, he and Frey announced an interest in pursuing other sports ventures.

Frey said he and Paxson won't make an offer until they see the terms of the lease negotiated by the NHL. They have submitted financial data to the league to demonstrate their ability to buy the Panthers.

Paxson, 60, helped found the Home Shopping Network in the 1980s, but later sold his stake. He owns dozens of radio and TV stations through his West Palm Beach-based Paxson Communications Inc.

In other news:

SENATORS: NEED CASH The Ottawa Senators need to raise $20 million Canadian to meet costs through to the start of the 1997-98 season, the club's chief financial officer said, just a year after the club raised $20 million to cover losses sustained in the abbreviated 1994-95 season. The team has recently moved into the 18,500-seat Palladium from the 10,585-seat Ottawa Civic Center, which was blamed in part for the revenue shortfall.

STARS: RECALL RICHARDS The Dallas Stars have recalled defenseman Travis Richards, 25, from their minor league affiliate to fill the roster spot left by forward Shane Churla, who was placed on the injured reserve list with a strained knee.

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