Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Transfer of Rangers in works
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Chuck Greenberg visited the Texas Rangers spring training complex for the first time Wednesday, and expressed confidence that the complex deal for his investment group's purchase of the team will be completed before the season opens next month.
"Everything is going smoothly," said Greenberg, who will become the CEO and managing general partner when the deal is completed. "There are always complexities and matters that have to be solved right up to the moment of being done. So far, nothing remarkable has happened or failed to happen. Everything is right on course and I feel great about it."
Greenberg's one-day visit was a brief reprieve from his work back in Texas trying to complete the transfer of the team from owner Tom Hicks and his financially strapped Hicks Sports Group.
"It's a question of when and not if," said Greenberg, sporting a red Rangers jacket over his blue Rangers shirt. "We think the when will be April 1."
Texas opens April 5 at home against Toronto.
"We continue to work to getting the deal closed and would like to have it done by opening day, as well," Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said in New York. "We're making some progress."
The deal is complicated by debt owed by Hicks Sports Group, which early last year defaulted on $525 million in loans tied to the Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars. Hicks said that was a deliberate move to force lenders to renegotiate terms of the deals. Hicks also is exploring a sale of the Stars, which he has owned since 1996. He bought the Rangers in 1998.
The SportsBusiness Journal reported, citing unnamed sources, the sale of the Rangers stalled after Major League Baseball last week informed the team's creditors that there would be delays in responding to the lenders' concerns about the deal.
"What's interesting is it said that the sale is delayed again which suggests that it has already been delayed once and that just hasn't happened," Greenberg said. "There are some folks out there that have a little bit of self-interest in portraying gloom and doom, none of whom are principals in the deal."
Greenberg's group includes Rangers president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan among a group of about a dozen mostly local investors. An agreement in principle to buy the team from Hicks was announced Jan. 23.
Greenberg was joined by Ray Davis of Dallas, one of the lead investors in the group, for the visit to the Arizona complex the Rangers share with the Kansas City Royals. Ryan was already at the camp.
As owner of two minor league teams, Greenberg has been a regular visitor to spring training the past 10 years in Florida. He had never been to spring training in Arizona before Wednesday.
"I love the Rangers. I'm totally emotionally invested even if I'm not yet financially invested. Nolan and I speak every day," Greenberg said. "I love spring training, it would be kind of ironic if the first spring training in many, many years I missed would be the spring training which we were on the verge of doing this."
After taking in the Rangers' game against AL West rival Seattle, Greenberg was returning to Texas.
"There's been a lot of grinding over the last eight or nine months, and the finish line is just ahead," he said. "I'm just going to keep grinding until we cross it."
Greenberg said there is work to be done by all parties to complete the deal, but that negotiations are on the right pace to be completed and "typical" for this stage in the process.
"Is everything done today where we can close tomorrow? No. But is everything moving on a pace that needs to in order to close on April 1? Yes," Greenberg said. "We think we will get there. If for some reason we don't, it doesn't mean there are problems. ... It's no reason for alarm on anyone's part."