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Report: Florida officials hire consultant to assess possibility of allowing Panthers to leave

Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports

While the Florida Panthers continue to seek help from Broward County officials in regards to annual rent and their share of the $250-million debt on their home arena, the BB&T Centre, Mayor Barbara Sharief tweeted Thursday that officials have hired a consultant to look into the feasibility of allowing the Panthers to get out of their lease and move the team elsewhere:

As per La Presse, the Panthers have been asking for an $80-million rent reduction on their lease at the BB&T Center, with their share of the arena's debt funded by a $4.5 million a year "tourist tax." The funds from this tax, however, have already been set aside for the revitalization of beaches and tourism promotions.

Sharief was previously believed to be in favor of offering aid to the Panthers, but appears to have changed her tune, even if it means taking on the full sum of the arena's debt:

Sharief added the consultant "will tell us what's in the County's best interest to do" when the report is released in October.

It's worth noting the Panthers have just under $65 million committed in salary for the 2014-15 season, affirming earlier reports that general manager Dale Tallon was authorized to spend despite significant losses.

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