Rangers to go on auc­tion block, which may fa­vor Ryan’s bid

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By An­gela K. Brown

FORT WORTH — Got half a bil­lion dol­lars? The Texas Rangers are set to go on the auc­tion block next week af­ter an un­ex­pected snag in the team’s bank­ruptcy plans.

Don’t call your banker just yet. Ma­jor League Base­ball will de­cide who can par­tic­i­pate in the auc­tion based on some strict guide­lines — in­clud­ing a $1.5 mil­lion de­posit and an open­ing bid of more than $500 mil­lion. And the league still can re­ject the high­est bid­der and se­lect the run­ner-up.

Out­side ex­perts sug­gest the nar­row lim­its are a clever ma­neu­ver to push through the long-de­layed sale to MLB’s pre­ferred buyer, a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who is the team pres­i­dent, and Pitts­burgh sports at­tor­ney Chuck Green­berg.

“This bank­ruptcy has turned into a fi­asco, a three­r­ing cir­cus, and this auc­tion is very un­usual in the sports world,” said Wayne McDonnell Jr., a pro­fes­sor at New York Uni­ver­sity’s Tisch Cen­ter for Hos­pi­tal­ity, Tourism, and Sports Man­age­ment. “The auc­tion is on the up-and-up, but this fa­vors the Green­bergRyan group based on the time con­straints.”

Po­ten­tial bid­ders have about 10 days to pull de­tails to­gether for the July 16 auc­tion, if it is ap­proved as ex­pected by U.S. Bank­ruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn.

It’s un­clear whether the judge will change the pro­posed bid­ding process con­trolled by MLB, which re­quires bids of at least $20 mil­lion more than the Green­berg-Ryan group’s of­fer, val­ued at $502 mil­lion.

The auc­tion is the lat­est eye­brow-rais­ing devel­op­ment in the pro­posed sale of the Rangers. Texas is be­lieved to be only the third MLB team to wind up in bank­ruptcy.

Po­ten­tial bid­ders in­clude Hous­ton busi­ness­man Jim Crane, who len­ders say had the high­est bid be­fore the Green­berg-Ryan group, and Dal­las busi­ness­man Jeff Beck, who helped fi­nance a bid by for­mer sports agent Den­nis Gil­bert.

Ma­jor League Base­ball wants the Green­berg-Ryan group “in the worst pos­si­ble way” be­cause Ryan is not only a base­ball leg­end but has been suc­cess­ful with his mi­nor league fran­chises, in­clud­ing the Round Rock Ex­press, McDonnell said.

“Even if (Dal­las Mav­er­icks owner) Mark Cuban wanted to buy the Rangers, Ma­jor League Base­ball would re­ject him be­cause of who he is, even though he is bril­liant and tal­ented,” McDonnell said. “MLB doesn’t want some­one who will rock the boat.’’

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