Rangers’ auction on despite protests
Judge says team will be on block next month
FORT WORTH — A federal bankruptcy judge decided Tuesday that the Texas Rangers will be auctioned off after all, despite angry creditors’ claims that the bidding process is unfair and still favors Major League Baseball’s preferred buyer.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn set the auction for Aug. 4 after changing some of the team’s proposed bidding procedures, citing a “need to bring order from chaos.” The final hearing on whether to approve the Rangers’ bankruptcy plan was set for later that day.
After the auction, Major League Baseball will still be able to reject the highest bidder and approve the next highest bid — something lenders opposed. If that happens, the judge can determine if the league acted in good faith, according to revised procedures.
Months ago the league gave its blessing to a group led by team president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, selected as the buyers after a bidding process last year.
But because angry creditors stalled the sale over financial concerns, the team filed for Chapter 11 protection in May with a plan to repay lenders $75 million and sell the club to Greenberg and Ryan’s group.
Although lenders said that bid was not the highest and the court-appointed chief restructuring officer recommended a new round of bidding, only the team and the Greenberg-Ryan group pushed for the auction Tuesday.
Attorneys for the creditors and re- structuring officer said they no longer supported an auction because the bidding procedures and timetable would limit a potential buyer’s ability to secure financing. They also said MLB still wants the Greenberg-Ryan group.
“He doesn’t believe anybody’s going to show up and bid,” said attorney Louis Strubeck, referring to the restructuring officer, William K. Snyder.
But Sandy Esserman, an attorney for Major League Baseball, said it has already approved two other bidders — Houston businessman Jim Crane and Dallas investor Jeff Beck — both part of failed bid attempts last year.