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