Shortly after the Texas Rangers announced the team's plans to resolve its ownership situation in federal bankruptcy court, Tom Hicks said he and his lawyers agreed "about a month ago" that this was the best way to handle the current impasse stalling the club's sale to Rangers Baseball Express -- the ownership group led by Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg and Rangers president Nolan Ryan.
Hicks stressed that all of the creditors owed money by Hicks Sports Group, which defaulted on $525 million in loans last year, will be paid back, but he dodged questions about specific figures. Hicks appeared most reluctant to discuss the details about the sale of 153 acres of land surrounding Rangers Ballpark, which he dismissed as "a separately negotiated transaction."
Without acquiring the additional real estate, Greenberg said the Rangers are "not viable as a major league franchise" because the leftover parking would only accommodate approximately 18,000 fans. The land was "absolutely essential" to the deal, he said, and its inclusion was something he insisted on from the beginning.
"We'll leave that for another day," Greenberg told the room full of reporters regarding the price agreed upon for the land.
As for what we were most concerned about -- how this affects the team's ability to potentially spend dough at the July 31 trade deadline by trading for someone like Houston ace Roy Oswalt -- the Rangers will keep its budget approved in October by MLB, which means GM Jon Daniels, who listened in on today's presser while leaning on a back wall, needs to be creative yet again if the sale isn't approved in time.
And, while the sale won't happen before the upcoming June 7 draft, Ryan said the team already budgeted for the draft, and should the team struggle initially to sign a player, it has until August 16 to do so.
The trio expressed a lot of optimism that the bankruptcy will satisfy the creditors, but the creditors have actually been threatening to fight this battle in bankruptcy court all along. So now they're expecting Monarch Alternative Capital and everyone else to just celebrate the sale along with them?
When asked if the gap between what the creditors were receiving in compensation in the original proposal and what they felt entitled to had been closed, Greenberg said determining that amount was "like chasing a soda can on a string." He added that the process wasn't used as a weapon to deny anyone anything and admitted that some creditors might react "in a noisy fashion."
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"Given the way some of these renegade creditors have behaved, I'm not expecting an overnight personality transplant," he said.
Greenberg said the team has been "paralyzed on the business side" and lost opportunities to market the franchise that it won't get back. However, he praised Hicks for his judgment and leadership throughout the process while acknowledging: "This wasn't how we designed it a while ago."
Hicks, who will receive 1 percent ownership of the team and the title of chairman emeritus as part of the sale, was unable to provide assurance that the process won't have any more hiccups along the way.
"I know it will be faster than the other alternatives would have been," he said.