Visiting South Florida for business or leisure? While you’re here, you’ll find the city of Sunrise to be a fabulous addition to your itinerary. Sometimes the hotel rates are better in Sunrise, Florida. Make it your home base during your stay, or stop by and find many ways to have an amazing time! With fun for all ages, Sunrise boasts some of the best attractions in the county. Come see what it has to offer.
Sunrise isn’t right on the beach, but with easy highway access, you can be there for the sun and fun. If recreation is on your mind, then put a stop at Markham Park on your itinerary. You can picnic with the family, try your hand at the outdoor rifle range, take the mountain bike trails, visit the observatory, watch radio-controlled planes on the airplane field, go fishing or boating, and even camp out on the campgrounds under the mesmerizing Florida sky.
You Must Visit the Sawgrass Mills Mall.
The Sawgrass Mills Mall awaits your shopping indulgences. Believe it or not, it is only second to Disney World in the state of Florida as the most popular attraction. Once inside, you’ll see why people from all over the world come here to shop. Top-name brands offer big outlet savings that give you more bang for your buck With more than 350 stores, including outlet locations from Nike and Ralph Lauren, plus value retailers OFF 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Marshalls, BrandsMart USA, and over 70 exclusive outlets not found anywhere else in South Florida such as Burberry, GUCCI, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo Company Store, Tory Burch, and Versace.
Sawgrass Mills has everything from fashion and jewelry to electronics, sports equipment, beauty products, home accessories, toys, and more. There is something for everyone in this enclosed, air-conditioned, and climate-controlled mall located just 30 minutes from Miami International Airport and 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
FLA Live Arena is home ice to the National Hockey League’s, Florida Panthers hockey games as well as live concerts and other events. We have been providing charter bus rentals to Florida Panthers hockey games since 1993.
The history of the NHL Florida Panthers hockey team
The NHL announced Miami as the home to an expansion ice hockey team on December 10, 1992. Ice hockey traditionalists couldn’t believe their ears when they heard the news. It ‘doesn’t even snow in Miami’ was the refrain from many fans up north. Yes, indeed, the weather in Miami rarely drops below 50°F, yet the city went crazy for the new hockey club when the news broke.
The NHL’s teams had slowly begun to migrate south from their northern locations by the time the 1990s dawned. By the time the Panthers were announced in 1992, Florida already had an ice hockey franchise. The Tampa Bay Lightning debuted that same year. Meanwhile, California had two teams, the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. By the end of the 1990s, more NHL teams would move from Canada or the northern United States to the south, as the popularity of the sport increased.
The Birth of the Florida Panthers
The Panthers franchise was not an NHL club seeking a new home by relocating. Rather, the Panthers were selected as an expansion team along with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. They were the 25th and 26th NHL teams.
While the Mighty Ducks were the brainchild of a popular kids’ movie from the 1990s – subsequently made into a TV show on the Disney+ streaming platform – the Panthers were founded by H. Wayne Huizenga, a successful businessman who is well-known for making millions of dollars as the owner of Blockbuster Video (remember those?).
Huizenga already owned the Florida Marlins baseball team. Now, he had an ice hockey club to go along with his baseball franchise. Coincidentally, the Marlins’ first season in Major League Baseball was in 1993, the same year the Panthers dropped the puck in the NHL for the first time.
The Florida Blockbusters
While the Panthers have become synonymous with the NHL over the last 30-plus seasons, Florida hockey fans almost had a different team name to cheer. Huizenga made millions off his two initial entrepreneurial ventures: waste management and Blockbuster Video.
The Anaheim franchise, which was owned by Disney, opted for the name the Mighty Ducks, in reference to the film. The film was released in July 1993 just months before the team’s first-ever NHL season. Huizenga was influenced by the Mighty Ducks name and considered naming the Florida hockey team the Blockbusters after the video rental store company. Drawings were produced featuring a man swinging a sledgehammer with the words ‘Blockbusters’ written across it. Fortunately, Huizenga pivoted and opted for a different team name.
At the time, Tampa Bay was trying to attract an MLB team. The city tried to lure the San Fransico Giants to Florida to play at Tropicana Field. When that didn’t work, the city attempted to land an expansion team, which they did eventually.
Tampa Bay entrepreneur Frank Morsani trademarked the name ‘Florida Panthers’ for the expansion Tampa Bay baseball team. However, Huizenga bought the name from Morsani to use for the hockey team. Huizenga paid $5,000 for the rights to the ‘Florida Panthers’ name, ending the Blockbusters. Before gaining the rights to the ‘Panthers’ name, Huizenga considered calling the hockey team South Florida. Once the official state animal was secured as the mascot, Huizenga removed the ‘South’ from the team’s name.
Early Success Followed by Playoff Droughts
The Panthers played their first NHL game on October 6, 1993, against the Chicago Blackhawks in the old Chicago Arena. The game ended 4-4, giving the team its first-ever regular-season point.
The 1993-94 NHL season was a success for the Panthers. The team set an NHL point total for an expansion team with 83. The team just missed the playoffs in its inaugural season, finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the eighth-place New York Islanders.
Florida failed to make the playoffs in its first two NHL campaigns, but finally made the postseason in year No 3. The Panthers collected 92 points and reached the NHL Stanley Cup finals. There, Florida was beaten by the Colorado Avalanche in four straight games.
A playoff drought would occur for most of the next decade-plus. The Panthers qualified for the postseason sporadically until the 2019-20 campaign. Florida reached the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, and despite failing to progress past the second round, the team continued to improve from season to season.
Florida Panthers FLA Live Arena
The Florida Panthers began life playing at the Miami Arena. Opened in 1988, the venue was the home arena for both the Panthers and the NBA’s Miami Heat. The Miami Arena held over 14,000 fans for ice hockey games. The arena had one of the lowest seating capacities in the entire NHL by the mid-1990s, and it was aging rapidly.
In 1998, the Panthers relocated from the Miami Arena to the National Car Rental Center, which is now known as FLA Live Arena due to sponsorship naming rights. The venue holds over 19,000 fans for ice hockey games. In February 2023, the FLA Live Arena hosted the NHL’s All-Star Game.
The FLA Live Arena has hosted a variety of other sporting events over the years. Along with concerts, the venue has hosted UFC and professional wrestling pay-per-views.
Florida Panthers Retired Numbers
The Panthers have three retired numbers. Remarkably, only one of the three retired numbers was worn by an actual Florida hockey player. That honor goes to former Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Luongo joined the team in 2000 and was immediately dubbed a “franchise guy”. Luongo played with the Panthers until 2006 when he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks. He had already become the Panthers’ all-time winningest goaltender before being shipped to Vancouver. In 2014, Luongo returned to the Panthers and remained with the team until 2019.
He racked up a total of 489 career wins, the fourth-most of any goaltender in NHL history. Only Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, and Marc-Andre Fleury tallied more wins. In addition to Luongo’s No 1 being retired, the Panthers retired the numbers of former owner Huizenga (37) and general manager Bill Torrey (93). Torrey was tasked with building the Panthers’ initial squad and remained in the job until 2001.
Besides the Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena has had other tenants as well. In 1998, the Florida ThunderCats of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) played in the arena. Then from 1999 to 2001, the Florida Bobcats of the Arena Football League (AFL) called FLA Live Arena their home. The Florida Pit Bulls of the American Basketball Association (ABA) were tenants of this venue in 2006. In 2009-10, the Miami Caliente of the Legends Football League (LFL) used the arena. An important thing to note here is that none of these tenants were there for more than three years.
Apart from the various sports events, e.g. hockey, basketball, arena football, etc., there have also been many concerts held over the years in FLA Live Arena. The venue is particularly very popular with touring music acts. From Paul McCartney to U2 to Lady Gaga to Celine Dion and more, many big names have performed in their concerts at this premier arena. If you are visiting Sunrise, Florida during hockey season, then it is highly recommended that you take the time to check out a Panther’s game at FLA Live Arena. Reserve tickets before you come to town to get prime seating for the entertainment that you want to see.
Number One In The Sun Since 1986!
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