Florida Panthers sold to New York businessman

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The Florida Panthers are in new hands.

New York businessman Vincent Viola completed the purchase of the NHL franchise on Friday from the group headed by Cliff Viner.

Terms were not disclosed, but the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Thursday said the price was $250 million and included the operation of the team's home at the BB&T Center.

Viola was a former minority of the NBA's Nets before the franchise moved to Brooklyn. He will be the Panthers' chairman, principal owner and governor.

"We are committed to South Florida. We understand that the fans are the be all and end all," said Viola at Friday's introductory news conference that included fellow partner Douglas Cifu and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"It is great for the NHL to be here in South Florida," said Bettman. "All indications are that the future (of the franchise) will be exceedingly bright."

The Panthers are celebrating 20 years as a franchise, first joining the NHL for the 1993-94 season. They reached the Stanley Cup Finals in just their third year, falling to the Colorado Avalanche in the spring of 1996, but have yet to win a playoff series in three tries since.

Viner's group took over ownership in 2009 and the Panthers made one playoff appearance during that span, winning the Southeast Division in 2011-12 before falling to the New Jersey Devils in a seven-game first-round playoff series.