Ending a unique chapter in the history of a successful professional sports franchise, the Texas Rangers recently left bankruptcy court with new confidence in their ability to free themselves from mountains of debt, and found some popular new owners in the process.
According to the Associated Press, the sale of the Rangers to a new consortium of investors has been on the table for quite some time, but was held up by the previous ownership’s Texas bankruptcy filing in May.
This filing led to a dramatic summer which culminated in a judge’s order for an auction to sell the team. The winning bidders, including Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, will soon officially be named owners because a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge approved the Rangers’ reorganization plans shortly after the auction.
When the Hicks Sports Group, the previous owner of the Rangers, filed for bankruptcy in Texas in May, the teams’ creditors were adamantly opposed to the filing, fearing that they wouldn’t be repaid. However, the sale of the team at an auction provided more than enough cash for both the purchase of the Rangers and the repayment of most of the creditors.
The auction, which had the excitement of a playoff baseball game, ended after midnight a few days ago after an intense bidding war between Ryan and Greenberg’s group and controversial Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
A report from ESPN.com said that the courtroom “erupted in raucous cheers” when Ryan and Greenberg placed the winning bid.
According to court documents, the winning bid was roughly $590 million, which topped Cuban’s bid by about $10 million. Cuban was disappointed by his loss, saying that “there were more than a few times when I thought we had the thing won.” He bowed out gracefully, though, saying Ryan and Greenberg “beat us fair and square.”
The Hicks Sports Group, who filed the initial bankruptcy claim, left the proceedings with more cash to pay their creditors and confidence in their ability to repay their restructured debt.
Moreover, the embattled group was also pleased that Ryan and Greenberg’s winning bid includes about $200 million in payments to Hicks’ unsecured creditors, including current New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who is owed nearly $25 million in deferred compensation from his previous contract with the Rangers.