Ruling delays hearing on Rangers sale

Updated: June 25, 2010, 2:58 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The prospective owner for the Texas Rangers said he's frustrated and feels the franchise is held hostage by lenders, who he says refuse to negotiate.

Chuck Greenberg, who along with Rangers legend Nolan Ryan, is trying to buy the franchise filed a motion Thursday night asking a federal bankruptcy judge to reconsider an order from earlier Thursday stating the Rangers and the lenders meet in court on July 22.

In the motion, Greenberg, a Pittsburgh attorney, asks U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn to hear the proceedings as originally scheduled July 9.

The Rangers are asking for Lynn to make a decision at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning in a Fort Worth courtroom.

Greenberg said if the hearing takes place on July 22 it would take 14 days for the confirmation to be finalized, therefore giving him power to control the club after the July 31 non-wavier trading deadline.

"I'm frustrated," Greenberg said following the Rangers' 6-5 victory over the Pirates on Thursday night. "We made substantial effort for months to resolve this amicably so that the court proceedings would not be necessary, and we were dealing with a couple of parties, whose goal appears to be delay. Their tactics continue to demonstrate that they refused to mediate three weeks ago and in every turn they've made effort after effort to slow down the process and they don't care about Rangers fans. They don't care about this community, they don't care about the players, and what's good for the businesses that rely on this franchise, they don't care about anything other than their own self interest and they've done enough harm for too long now."

Greenberg said Lynn appointed another judge to force the parties to mediate three weeks ago, but the lenders refused to budge. An attorney for the lenders was not available for comment.

Originally Lynn ruled both sides will meet July 16 to hammer out issues over the Rangers' bankruptcy plan to pay creditors $75 million and sell the club to Ryan and Greenberg.

But on Thursday afternoon, Lynn delayed until July 22 whether to approve the plan.

The Rangers, who are in first place in the AL West, are trying to make a trade for a front-line pitcher. With Major League Baseball running the franchise from a financial standpoint, it's difficult for the club to make moves without the approval of MLB.

Since the team's sale was announced in January, the deal has been stalled by creditors' concerns over the financially strapped Hicks Sports Group.

Creditors argue the team doesn't just owe $75 million and is obligated to pay more than $525 million in loans that team owner Tom Hicks' ownership group defaulted on in 2009. Creditors also have argued that the Greenberg-Ryan bid -- which MLB endorses -- was not the highest.

If the issues cannot be resolved during mediation, it's unclear if the judge would allow any party to vote on the plan. The judge's ruling earlier this week allowed two groups of creditors and the team ownership to vote -- although avoiding a vote seemed to be his goal in suggesting that the Rangers modify the plan.

Creditors have said they would vote against the existing proposal. If a vote is allowed, the only way the team's plan could be saved is if one of the creditors' groups approved it, according to a bankruptcy code.

If the Rangers revise their plan and the judge rules that the creditors are no longer adversely affected, they would not be allowed to vote on it. Then the judge would decide whether to approve the plan based on certain bankruptcy code requirements.

Even without a vote, creditors could try to block the plan by saying it was filed in bad faith and therefore violates bankruptcy codes. The filing removed creditors' rights to approve the team's sale.

"From our standpoint if people want to bargain, let's bargain tomorrow, why wait three weeks," Greenberg said. "Let's go, we've waited long enough, this franchise has been held hostage long enough lets go. Let's get it done."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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