Apparently, Judge's Ruling in Rangers Chapter 11 Case is the Rorschach Inkblot of Sports

Yesterday afternoon, after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn delayed the sale of the Texas Rangers to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan's Rangers Baseball Express pending some changes, both the Texas Rangers Baseball Partners and the first lien lendors had their reps send press releases huzzah-ing the opinion. Which, I know, is a bit ... confusing. Speaking of: Josh Garoon at Baseball Time in Arlington this morning posted a thrilling blow-by-blow of yesterday's reporting and misreporting on the judge's order. The upshot: We all should have gone to law school.

Daniel Kaplan at the Sports Business Journal is still insisting that that creditors can block the sale, even if the Rangers tweak their plan; Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball is insisting the sale to Greenberg and Ryan should happen sooner than later, after TRBP makes its changes. But I've spoken with some folks familiar with the dealings this morning, and they're saying that if newly appointed chief restructuring officer William Snyder doesn't like the plan, well, then, all bets are off for an early July resolution.

Which brings me to this: Last night, 'round the time Your Three-And-A-Half-Games-Up Rangers were closing out their ninth straight win, Rick Ericson at the LeMaster Group, which handles PR for Tom Hicks, sent out a "FAQ about Judge Lynn's order on Rangers Chapter 11 issues." This, if nothing else, is Hicks Sports Group's official position: The deal will be done in a matter of weeks.  At least, "We certainly hope so." But even then, TRBP's official stance is at odds with Lynn's: LeMaster Group's FAQ says the judge asked TRBP to make "some minor changes to its plan." Not so much if you look at Page 27 of the order, where Lynn demands "significant changes to the Plan." No wonder everyone's so damned upside-down.

FAQ about Judge Lynn's order on Rangers Chapter 11 issues

What does Judge Lynn's order mean in terms of the timing of the sale?

It appears to be positive because the Judge is still aiming toward an early July date for resolution. He has asked TRBP to make some minor changes to its plan to sell the club to the group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan that was selected to acquire the team. Contrary to initial and erroneous reports that suggested the sale could be blocked by creditors, no such ruling was made by the Judge. Quite simply, he gave the creditors the right to pursue damages against HSG Sports Group, but that decision will not affect the transfer of ownership to Greenberg/Ryan.

Will this occur sometime in early July?

TRBP, the Greenberg/Ryan group and Major League Baseball are very hopeful that can happen. That's what is best for the franchise, the fans and the region and it's the reason the Chapter 11 proceedings were initiated---it's the fastest way to complete the sale to this group.

What does the expected appointment of a CRO (Chief Restructuring Officer) mean for the club and its operations?

If the Judge issues that order, and it is expected, it will have no impact on the day-to-day operations of the club. Nolan Ryan's management team will continue to make all decisions and judgments for the Rangers. It's important to note that the Judge is expected to define a specific role for the appointed CRO, and that is different than the customary assignment for a person in this position. If a CRO is appointed, the Judge will likely ask that person to act as an independent third party to examine the business deal between TRBP and the Greenberg/Ryan group. That would be the CRO's only role. Business operations, player decisions, budgets as well as sales and sponsorship determinations would be controlled by Nolan Ryan who will report to Tom Hicks.

Do you think this can really be completed soon?

We certainly hope so. The organization, the new ownership group and Major League Baseball are working tirelessly to make it happen.

Did the Judge order Greenberg/Ryan to come up with more money to finalize the deal?

No. The court's order dealt solely with technical legal issues under the federal bankruptcy code. The court clarified the changes that TBRP needs to make, and the court was clear that if those changes are made, no creditor vote could block the sale to the Greenberg/Ryan group. Implementing the changes requested by the Judge can be easily accomplished by TRBP.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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