SUNRISE, Fla. – Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today that Vincent Viola has become Chairman, Principal Owner & Governor of SSE, the Florida Panthers and the Broward County-owned BB&T Center.
In addition, Douglas Cifu assumes 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. “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.
“I thank Commissioner Gary Bettman for leading us through this transition, and I thank Cliff Viner for his leadership and dedication in stewarding the Panthers franchise over the past five-plus years. My family and I truly are excited about this incredible opportunity. We look forward to sharing incredible moments and exciting victories with the fans in South Florida for many years to come.”
“I have worked with Vinnie Viola for a long time and, in my mind, there is no better person to lead a sports franchise like the Florida Panthers,” Cifu said. “He is an intelligent, hard-working, self-made family man that cares about the community, about the people he works with, and will build a first-class organization that we can all be proud of. I am excited about the incredible potential for this franchise in South Florida and am looking forward to working with Vinnie, Michael Yormark, Dale Tallon and Kevin Dineen, as we take on this exciting challenge.”
“I have often talked about the potential the Florida Panthers have to captivate the South Florida market and be one of the NHL’s model franchises,” Yormark said. “With Vinnie Viola as owner – and with the support of his wonderful wife Teresa and sons John, Michael and Travis – I believe the Panthers have a unique opportunity to realize that potential. Vinnie and Doug have been successful at everything they have ever done, and I am confident that this announcement will usher in a new era of unprecedented growth and success for this franchise.
“I would also like to thank Cliff Viner for what he has done for this organization, for me personally, and for the entire community. But looking forward, today is a great day for the Florida Panthers, for Broward County, for the City of Sunrise and our other local businesses and partners, and for all of South Florida.”
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Viola graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1977, and later graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne, Infantry and Ranger Schools and served in the 101st Airborne Division. In 1983, he graduated from the New York Law School.
Mr. Viola is currently the 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). Mr. 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.
Mr. Viola decisively led the New York Mercantile Exchange through the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Mr. Viola was recognized by the members and the Board of Directors of the New York Mercantile Exchange for his efforts in leading the reopening of the New York Mercantile Exchange following the terrorist attacks and at the time the New York Mercantile Exchange Board presented Viola with a citation noting “his untiring efforts and inspirational guidance that resulted in the reopening of the New York Mercantile Exchange following the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”
The citation continued, that Mr. Viola’s “heroic leadership served as a beacon to thousands of Exchange members and staff, providing us with the fortitude to resume operations and preserve the efficiency of the American economy and global energy and metals markets in the face of this great tragedy…His wholehearted determination, refusal to be thwarted, and skilled comportment with public officials were the impetus behind the Exchange being the only business west of Ground Zero to open on September 17 and for several months thereafter – preserving the livelihoods of tens of thousands of individuals and families in New York and worldwide. His actions embody the American Spirit in its most noble form.”
Shortly after September 11, 2001, Mr. Viola conceived, founded and funded the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, now in its tenth year of operation.
Mr. Viola has been widely recognized for his philanthropic endeavors including a $2 million donation to Fordham University and founding the National Children’s Educational Reform Foundation, which is dedicated to the improvement of inner city education with an emphasis on bilingual programs in immigrant communities.
Mr. Viola and his wife, Teresa, have three sons – John, Michael and Travis.
Inner Circle Sports, a boutique investment bank focused on the global sports industry, served as the exclusive sell-side advisor to Sunrise Sports & Entertainment. The Inner Circle team was led by Rob Tilliss, Nishant Tella and Tim Lynch.
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is the premier company of its kind in South Florida. Florida Panthers Social Media is powered by Ford - follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Home to the Florida Panthers Hockey Club and internationally recognized concerts and events, the Broward County-owned BB&T Center is one of the top ranked venues of its kind in the world.