The bankruptcy of a major sports franchise is usually pretty big news.
In Texas this season, Major League Baseball’s Rangers have been subject to an ongoing bankruptcy case that seemed close to being solved just a few weeks ago. After the monumental contracts offered to players like Alex Rodriguez a number of years ago, on which the team still pays, the team just couldn’t stay on the field, financially speaking.
Enter Rangers, Texas and baseball legend Nolan Ryan and his money partner, Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg. A few months ago, these two (and a couple of other minority parties) seemed all set to buy the team out of bankruptcy, sign its major prospects and restore order to Houston baseball. But they saw a curve ball in court this week.
A gentleman named William Snyder, the court-appointed Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO), submitted a motion to the court against the auction process, which prompted the Rangers franchise to pull their motion for the auction, which would have concluded the bidding on July 16. Confused yet? Well let’s sort it out.
Essentially, it was as close to a done deal as possible for the Ryan-Greenberg purchase. But, Mr. Snyder changed his mind and wanted to adjust the rules of the auction process, which opened the door to another interested buyer, Houston’s own Jim Crane.
Snyder still wants an auction process but with different rules. He agreed to earlier in the week a process that branded the Ryan-Greenberg team with the status of “stalking horse,” which means that any new bidder would have to beat them by $20 million.
Of course, the league would have to approve the new ownership group, which is what made the Ryan-Greenberg bid such a home-run, as Ryan’s presence within the league’s ownership milieu is what’s really driving the league's preference.
Upon release of the news that the CRO had changed his mind, Ryan expressed doubt to the Houston media."It's a good possibility that it might not happen," he said. "The way they've invited Crane back into the picture, they seem to be more concerned with him than anyone else."
That is probably not true. Nevertheless, it’s a good public relations statement to garner additional support (as if he needed it) for his group, especially with the Rangers playing some serious playoff baseball heading into the All-Star break.
The 50-35 Rangers currently lead the NL West (thanks in large part to the hitting display of Raleigh's Josh Hamilton), making their shaky financial status somewhat of a mystery. Still, one look at the contract decisions of current owner Tom Hicks, and the reasons become abundantly clear. Apparently, reports are surfacing out of the NHL that his efforts with his hobby, the Dallas Stars may be leading to similar results.
We'll keep you posted.