Flash Boy Panther Owner's Call for Florida Cash: High Frequency, Wrong Wavelength

Published on 07-Apr-2014 by J Square Humboldt
NHL / NHL Daily Update

Throw me a friggin' bone here!

How does a high-frequency stock trader drop $30million or so a year?

By purchasing the Florida Panthers.

On paper, it made sense when the NHL poobahs placed the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning in the Metropolitan Division when it realigned. Getting more games with the three New York-area clubs along with the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals would theoretically draw more snowbirds to the BB&T Arena. There would still be annual visits by the Montréal Canadiens to attract the numerous Québeckers a few times per season, too.

And while new owner Vinnie Viola acknowledged that making the Panthers respectable on the ice and financially viable off it would be a marathon and not a sprint, the man who might become America's first high-frequency trading billionaire would still like just a little love from the hometown politicos.

To the tune of around $80million, up from the original request for $70million.

While his Panther execs were doing what they could to buy some sympathy from the Broward County Council, local attitudes changed somewhat when author Michael Lewis hit the publicity trail for his latest exposé, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, a damning revelation of predatory high-frequency trading practices.

It made dudes like Viola look more like a robber baron than a philanthropist:

The undercurrent that even the bright lights on Wall Street don't understand what they're doing but do it anyway foments flashbacks to the very same thing causing the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

So it wasn't the best of times for the Panthers' management to be talking bailout, because when the media sees a hot topic as red meat, the echo chamber can get pretty shrill:

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Toss in the public record reports that BB&T Arena makes money for its parent company -- also controlled by Viola -- with the Panthers being a major reason why, and America's most visible high-frequency trading mogul has some serious 'splaining to do when requesting a generous scoop from the public trough.

Or perhaps some more serious lobbying instead. It seems that behind-closed-door stuff can be rather profitable.

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