One day, perhaps later than sooner, there will be a resolution over how much, if anything, Tom Hicks or the present owners of the Texas Rangers owe over that failed Glorypark development that was to have been built next to the Ballpark in Arlington. But for now, that case remains in limbo -- somewhere between U.S. Bankruptcy Court and U.S. District Court, both in Fort Worth. Which is a long way from where it began in February 2010, in Dallas County District Court.
For some reason -- curious and bored, I'd say -- I hopped on to the Texas Rangers Baseball Partners Site to see what, if anything, was happening over there. And it turns out the site, which was created to host all the court docs filed after Hicks's Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (TRBP) filed for Chapter 11 in May 2010, is alive and well. The main reason: RTKL -- the architecture firm hired by Hicks Holdings, Steiner + Associates and myriad other Hicks-related companies to develop Glorypark, a 25,000-square-foot retail store and other features in and around the ballpark -- and Vratsinas Construction Company still want their money.
Problem is, Hicks and the team's current owners, Ray Davis and Bob Simpson and the rest of Rangers Baseball Express (RBE), have been fighting ever since the team's sale last summer over who owes what when it comes to outstanding debts. That's in large part because the fourth and final plan of reorganization, which was hashed out late at night right before the auction, was vague when it came to determining who was responsible for what -- including, word is, who owes for those private-jet bills.
Same goes for Glorypark.
"That process has been frustrated by the bankruptcy filing by the Rangers, the ensuing sale in the summer of 2010 and the subsequent debate concerning the post-bankruptcy obligations of RBP and TRBP for the Rangers-related liabilities," says John Nassen, one of the attorneys representing RTKL and VCC. "The Hicks-related entities, as defendants in the proceedings, have enjoyed the hiatus in case activity caused by the disputes between RBE and TRBP over responsibilities for the obligations due RTKL and VCC under the plan."
A quick glance at filings made in recent months reveals that once the sale went through, RTKL and VCC added Rangers Baseball Express to its initial litigation -- which RBE then had moved into bankruptcy court in Fort Worth. At which point, Texas Rangers Baseball Partners and Rangers Baseball Express began pointing fingers at each other while shouting, "Not it!" Hicks's attorneys filed a motion at one point seeking to expunge its obligations, insisting they were Davis and Simpson's problems. To which they replied, in so many words, "Say what now?"
Rangers Baseball Express eventually filed a motion for partial summary judgment, which was argued but hasn't been ruled on. Matter of fact, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn has recommended that U.S. District Judge John McBryde move the case to his courtroom, where there can be a trial in front of a jury to settle this matter once and for all. Ish. Attorneys believe McBryde is two, three weeks away from making a decision, and that he will more than likely accept the case from Lynn.
One thing to keep in mind: The case doesn't just involve Glorypark, but also the surrounding land upon which Hicks had intended to build those parking lots and "the design of the retail/entertainment and media integration area between Glorypark and the Ballpark known as Rangers Alley, which was centered upon the Texas Rangers flagship store," per a filing made last week. And, according to RTKL and VCC's filing:
To complicate matters further, and what is ignored by TRBP is the involvement and overlap of TRBP's executives in connection with several other Defendants. TRBP was headed by Thomas O. Hicks, then the owner of the Texas Rangers. Hicks also headed Hicks Holdings, Hicks Sports Group, Southwest Sports Group, Ballpark Real Estate, and Hicks Glorypark among others. In addition to Hicks, other executives who overlap with the Texas Rangers and the other Defendants in the litigation pending in Federal District Court include Casey Shilts, Jeff Cogen, Richard McLaughlin, and Brad Alberts. These individuals, along with Hicks' development agent, Cousins Properties, all requested, reviewed, oversaw, or approved RTKL and VCC's work that was performed in each of the areas described above.
In fact, many of these individuals, along with Hicks, made representations regarding the availability of adequate funding for RTKL and VCC's services. RTKL and VCC relied on these representations and performed the work as requested. RTKL and VCC have invoices outstanding for these services totaling millions of dollars, and TRBP, or RBE, should not be allowed to turn a blind eye to their participation in the overall project after the fact.
Nassen says that when he filed the suit in February 2010, his clients were hoping to "quickly and effectively move toward a resolution for the outstanding obligations due by the Rangers, Steiner and the Hicks entities." But that didn't happen. Nevertheless, he says today, "Counsel for VCC and RTKL is hopeful we are nearing a turning point in the proceedings, which will allow everyone to move forward more aggressively toward case preparation or settlement of the outstanding disputes."
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