Past, Present Texas Rangers Owner In Legal Spat Over Use of 11,679 Ballpark Parking Spots

Speaking of disputes between Texas Rangers ownership past and present ...

Courthouse News has the lengthy lawsuit filed Monday in Tarrant County District Court, in which the current ownership team (Rangers Baseball Express) is suing the former owner (Tom Hicks's Ballpark Real Estate) over 11,679 parking spaces around the Ballpark in Arlington -- about 5,000 of which Hicks owns directly, the rest of which belong to the city of Arlington and are leased by the Hicks-owned entity. Says the suit and this Star-Telegram story, RBE thought it had complete control over the spaces through the 2011 season. But not so, says Hicks, who the suit says intends to take 'em back by next Monday's homestand -- at which point, he'll jack up the rates and create "a loss of goodwill" between the team and its fans.

Says the suit, which recaps last summer's bankruptcy and auction and the dispute over the land that eventually had it removed from the sale, when the Rangers announced in February they were going to keep prices the same this season as last ($5 to $10), Hicks called Chuck Greenberg and said he was terminating the land use agreement that gave current ownership use of the lots. After many calls and meetings, during which things weren't settled, the suit was filed for fear of "price-gouging."

This is not how Hicks sees it, according to a statement sent by Rick Ericson at LeMaster Group this morning:

"Nolan Ryan and Tom Hicks met as late as last week to discuss issues regarding Ballpark parking. At that time Mr. Hicks and Ballpark Real Estate LP reiterated a guarantee to the Club to provide parking for Texas Rangers fans with absolutely no disruptions while BRE and Rangers Express finalize a new deal on the use of property owned by BRE. It's important to note that the Rangers have known since July 2010 that in order to control all parking issues, the Club would have to purchase the land or come to a new agreement with BRE. Having not heard from the Rangers, Mr. Hicks contacted Chuck Greenberg on January 12, 2011 and representatives have been in discussions since that time. We are confident this will be resolved soon."
Ericson also passed along "a fact sheet" with BRE's side of the story. It follows. Bonus: A certain former owner of the Dallas Mavericks also makes a cameo appearance.

Fact sheet on Rangers Ballpark parking issues

· The original agreement (announced January 2010) with Texas Baseball Rangers Partners (TBRP) and the Greenberg-Ryan group included the sale of the land around the Ballpark

· The 154 acres was (and is) owned or controlled by Ballpark Real Estate LP, a totally separate entity than TBRP, the former owners of the Texas Rangers. Proceeds from the sale, had it been consummated, would have been distributed to that privately-held organization that is controlled by Tom Hicks and includes former Mavericks owner Don Carter

· Both BRE and Baseball Express believed that the land should be sold with the team, and the land sale portion of the original deal was priced at approximately $75 million

· The Chief Restructuring Officer called the land sale a "sweetheart deal" and rebuked both BRE and the Greenberg-Ryan group for its inclusion in the sale. As a result, the parties removed the land as an asset in the sale.

· Since 1999, when a partial purchase of the land was made, BRE and Tom Hicks allowed the Texas Rangers to treat parking as a "loss leader" in order to draw fans to the Ballpark even in losing seasons. This was possible because Mr. Hicks owned both the Texas Rangers and had a majority interest in BRE which owns the parking lots.

· BRE has no objections if the Rangers want to continue to view parking as a "loss leader" and charge fans artificially low parking rates.

· When Baseball Express failed to contact BRE regarding the land after acquiring the team, BRE initiated discussions with the Rangers former General Managing Partner Chuck Greenberg, in January, to discuss the team's use of the land for the 2011 season.

· BRE has exchanged a number of letters with Baseball Express since January and at all times, BRE has expressed a willingness to come to commercially reasonable terms on the use of the property