For the first time since the Panthers’ improbable 2012 trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the BB&T Center was once again the center of attention in South Florida as the team introduced Vincent Viola as the new Chairman, Principal Owner & Governor of SSE (Sunrise Sports and Entertainment), the Florida Panthers, and the Broward County-owned BB&T Center. In addition, his long-time friend and business partner Douglas Cifu will assume the role of Vice Chairman, Partner & Alternate Governor, while Michael R. Yormark has been promoted to the position of President & Chief Executive Officer of the organization.
“My family and I are honored to take the helm of the Florida Panthers organization with the No. 1 goal of putting a winning team on the ice year after year and bringing a Stanley Cup to our incredible fans here in South Florida,” Viola said in a press release issued before his introduction. “I believe strongly in family, work-ethic, loyalty, relentless effort and a positive attitude and we hope to build an organization based on those principles.”
A Brooklyn native, Viola currently sits as Chairman and CEO of Virtu Financial and is one of the nation’s foremost leaders in electronic trading. He began his career in the financial services industry on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange and rose to be Vice Chairman (1993-1996) and Chairman (2001-2004). Adding to his already impressive business resume, Viola is also the founder and largest stockholder in Independent Bank Group, Inc (Nasdaq: IBTX), a community banking chain headquartered in McKinney, Texas that he founded in 1989. In 2009, he was inducted in to the Futures Industry Association Hall of Fame.
Having already conquered the business world, Viola’s lifelong dream of owning a sports team received new life after the idea of purchasing the Panthers was brought to his attention during a lunch with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Once the idea was out in the open, both Viola and Cifu were dead set on acquiring the South Florida franchise.
“We were very committed to get it done before the season started,” Viola said. “We were just relentless in our effort and we made it hard for the commissioner to say no.”