Texas Rangers: Sale
Proceedings in the auction of the Texas Rangers are expected to begin at 9 a.m. sharp.
Spotted Cuban, looking dapper but nervous in a business suit -- no T-shirts today -- at the security checkpoint near the courthouse entrance. Current owner Tom Hicks is also on hand.
Several Rangers' season-ticketholders have already staked out spots around the modest 40-seat courtroom, but they are easily out-numbered by the media in attendance as the Rangers' future hangs in the balance.
UPDATE: All the major parties are now in chambers with Judge Michael Lynn after a short preliminary hearing in his courtroom, which is one floor down from where the auction will be held.
After the hearing, Clifton Jessup was asked if Cuban would bid at the auction, which will be held on Aug. 4.
"I don't know," said Jessup, a bankruptcy lawyer who was retained by Cuban earlier this week. "We hope to, we'd like to, but we need to go through all of our due diligence and research and look at all of the factors before we know if we're able to make a credible bid."
During the hearing, Jessup said Cuban is also exploring the possibility of joining with one of the other bidders.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn upheld the Aug. 4 auction date at Thursday's hearing, which might not give Cuban enough time to put together his own bid. Jessup said Cuban has been approved by MLB as a bidder.
* They said the decision does not require the first lien lenders be granted any veto power over the proposed sale. Part of the statement:
Judge Lynn ruled that the Bankruptcy Code does not require that the plan confer such rights and determined the plan may go forward with certain modifications, described in the Opinion, to protect the legal rights of the Lenders. Such modifications can be made by Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (the “Debtor”) without the consent of the Lenders. If those modifications are made, the Lenders will be deemed to have accepted the plan and will not be entitled to vote against it and will not have the ability to block the sale.
* The statement also said the judge rejected the lenders' desire to speak in the bankruptcy case for the two general partners of the Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (the "debtor"). Lynn said the Rangers' equity owners would speak for those parties, not the lenders.
* In a separate hearing, Lynn appointed William Snyder to as as a Chief Restructuring Officer for the general partners of the club. From the statement:
Mr. Snyder will have the opportunity review the proposed plan and determine whether the contemplated sale of the Texas Rangers to Rangers Baseball Express, LLC would serve the best interests of the two general partners, the Debtor, and their creditors. Rangers Baseball Express, LLC welcomes the appointment of Mr. Snyder and has confidence that, after a careful and timely review, he will conclude that confirmation of the plan on the schedule currently set by the Court would serve the best interests of the Texas Rangers, its owners, and their creditors.
* The plan remains to schedule a hearing for July 9 to confirm the plan. Of course, that's based on the Rangers proving the plan meets the standards set forth under the Bankruptcy Code. They added that the Memorandum Opinion issued by Lynn today "lays out a road map to rapid confirmation of the plan, consistent with the schedule established when the case was filed."
So there is your long statement from the Greenberg group. Bottom line: They feel things are moving forward.
"We like our club a lot," Daniels said from an airport on his return trip from Arizona. "There are some areas that we could look to improve, some internally and some via the trade market. It's too early to have a full picture on what that means in terms of players and dollars. We’ll adjust as we go through the process. Our guys are out there, our scouts are doing their work and we’ll adjust as we need to."
Daniels said from his understanding of things that the timetable to get the transfer of ownership done by July 31 is still on track. But if it doesn't happen by then, it could certainly hamper the club's ability to make some moves. That doesn't mean they would be completely handcuffed, however.
"We can operate normally within our budget that was set last fall," Daniels said. "We went into this offseason, this season, with the expectation that we’d be a good club and may want and need to have some ability to upgrade the club. Nothing has changed in that regard."
In other words, it appears Daniels has saved some money for the trade deadline. So for now, Daniels and his staff will continue to prepare for the deadline, figure out exactly what their needs are and see how they can go about filling those needs. Obviously, some more salary room would give them the ability to add some top-flight players like Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee. But Daniels will have many contingency plans and be ready to act on them if necessary.
"I look at the things we know for sure," Daniels said. "We know we’ve got a good club. We have other options in our system should we need to call on them and we have the ability to operate normally within our budget, which has always been the case. Beyond that, everything else is out of our control. I don’t think we can worry about things that are outside our scope of control. The sooner that this is resolved, the better this will be for the ballclub. We’re going to wait the process out and let the lawyers handle that."
BTW, Daniels is chatting with you here on ESPN Dallas at 11 a.m. Thursday. You can ask some early questions here.
"We are pleased that the judge remains committed to completing the sale of the Rangers expeditiously. We are confident that necessary changes to the plan can be made to achieve that outcome."
Click here for a new story about the hearing. From the Rangers' perspective, this is what today's ruling means:
* There are tweaks to the bankruptcy plan that need to be made to satisfy the key lenders. The judge ruled them impaired until those changes are agreed upon. It means they could vote against the deal, so the Rangers will opt to make changes before that vote happens. It apparently doesn't change the amount paid to the creditors.
* The judge referenced the trade deadline in court and all sides noted that it was important this was resolved for the good of the club by July 31.
* A chief restructuring officer to represent the two holding companies of the Rangers (not the lenders) was named. That's William Snyder of CRG Partners, who has participated in this role at other times. He will look over the agreement and vote on behalf of the holding company as long as he feels the deal makes sense. He's not really a mediator or arbitor, but will look the agreement over as an impartial party. Here's a statement on that aspect:
"Texas Rangers Baseball Partners want what is best for the Rangers and supports an independent review of the Greenberg-Ryan transcation. During the review, Nolan Ryan and the Rangers management team will continue to direct and administer the club under Mr. Hicks’ ownership."
* All in all, it means things remain on track, but this does slow the process a little. The judge could still hold a hearing on July 9, but could also back that up. Still, the club believes this transfer can still get done by July 31.
More to come from Jon Daniels as soon as he talks about how this impacts the club.
Another hearing is scheduled for July 9, which could be the final legal hurdle before the sale of the team from Hicks Sports Group to Rangers Baseball Express, the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Ryan.
"We're pleased, and [the court dates] allow us to do the things important to us," Ryan said, referring to the July 31 trade deadline.
Click here for details about Wednesday's hearing.
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