FORT WORTH, TEXAS (AP) - Bidder up!
The Texas Rangers will go on the auction block in federal bankruptcy court Wednesday, the most dramatic chapter yet in one of the most contentious sales of an American professional sports team. The last Major League Baseball team to be auctioned off in such a way was the Orioles in 1993.
Cuban’s group, which includes Houston businessman Jim Crane, was the only bid submitted by Tuesday night’s deadline, the court-appointed restructuring officer, William K. Snyder, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. Snyder did not reveal the amount of the bid but said he and team attorneys were reviewing it to make sure it meets certain qualifications.
For starters, the bid must be at least $15 million higher than $306.7 million, the cash portion of Greenberg-Ryan offer that totals about $520 million for the team. Crane, who made an unsuccessful bid during last year’s original bidding process, opted to join Cuban’s group instead of submitting his own offer.
Dallas businessman Jeff Beck had been pre-qualified by MLB to participate in the auction, but his attorney had not attended recent meetings or hearings. Fox, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said Tuesday it did not plan to bid after speculation it wanted to firm up its hold on Rangers‘ TV rights through Fox Sports Southwest.
Whatever the auction’s outcome, final approval of the sale rests with Major League Baseball. A league official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the AP on Tuesday that MLB intends to work with the winning bidder _ although it has the option of choosing the second-highest bid.
Outside experts say they cannot predict how the auction will unfold but say “astronomical” bids are unlikely. Cuban was ready to pony up more than $1 billion for the Chicago Cubs, which wound up briefly in bankruptcy before Tribune Co. sold the team to the Ricketts family last year.
“Mark Cuban is an absolutely brilliant businessman who has shown he’ll do anything for his players,” said Wayne McDonnell, a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. “He’s a bit of a wild card and very different from the good ol’ boys network in baseball, but he has a burning desire for victory and the financial wherewithal to buy the Rangers and increase their value.”
That group has the endorsement of some community leaders who clearly want Hall of Famer Ryan in place to keep drawing fans and steering a team that’s now leading the AL West.
“Nolan exceeded our expectations on the mound. He has exceeded our expectations as president of the team. Now, we as fans are even more hopeful for the future if Nolan’s group takes ownership of the Texas Rangers,” Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief said Monday, echoing the comments of Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, whose city is home to Rangers Stadium.
The Greenberg-Ryan group was announced as the new buyer in January, but the sale was stalled by angry creditors who said other bids were higher. Lenders feared they would not be repaid the $525 million in loans that team owner Tom Hicks’ sports group defaulted on.View Entire Story
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