Court bat­tle con­tin­ues over sale

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

FORT WORTH — An­gry cred­i­tors have thrown plans for an Aug. 4 auc­tion of the Rangers into jeop­ardy, say­ing they don’t like the bid­ding pro­ce­dures and ar­gu­ing that the lease for the team’s ball­park should be sev­ered from the sale.

U.S. Bank­ruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn on Mon­day granted a mo­tion to seal the cred­i­tors’ request to re­con­sider the bid­ding pro­ce­dures that are heav­ily con­trolled by Ma­jor League Base­ball. Lynn ap­proved the pro­ce­dures last week af­ter mak­ing some changes, in­clud­ing de­lay­ing the auc­tion for two weeks to give po­ten­tial buy­ers more time to se­cure fi­nanc­ing.

Attorneys for Ma­jor League Base­ball said the cred­i­tors’ mo­tion filed last week was re­hash­ing ar­gu­ments al­ready re­jected by the judge, in­clud­ing claims that the bid­ding process would pre­vent a fair and com­pet­i­tive sale.

Lynn set a hear­ing for to­day to con­sider the ob­jec­tions and pos­si­bly rule on a sep­a­rate law­suit, filed by cred­i­tor JP Mor­gan Chase Bank, seek­ing to re­move the Rangers Ball­park lease from the sale.

JP Mor­gan con­tends the team’s par­ent com­pany, Hicks Sports Group, trans­ferred the lease to the team just be­fore the bank­ruptcy fil­ing with­out the bank’s ap­proval, as re- the team’s May bank­ruptcy fil­ing.

The team filed for Chap­ter 11 pro­tec­tion with a plan to re­pay len­ders $75 mil­lion and sell the team to a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher and team pres­i­dent Nolan Ryan and Pitts­burgh sports at­tor­ney Chuck Green­berg. The Rangers’ pur­chase agree­ment with that group, which bid about $575 mil­lion, in­cludes the ball­park lease.

That group was cho­sen last year af­ter a bid­ding process, but the sale was stalled by cred­i­tors who were concerned af­ter owner Tom Hicks’ sports group de­faulted on $525 mil­lion in loans. The Green­berg-Ryan group agreed to waive ex­clu­siv­ity rights and al­low the bid­ding process to re­open as long as cer­tain pro­ce­dures were in place for the auc­tion.

Paul San­cya

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