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Selig Pleased Texas Rangers Auction Will Respect MLB's Right to Choose Owner PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 17:33

Bud Selig

In speaking to the media before next week’s All-Star Game, Commissioner Selig addressed the issue of the Texas Rangers, and their continued saga in bankruptcy court. Selig’s comments came the day after the Rangers and the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan agreed to allow the bidding process to be opened back up, and the process for an auction to take place. The motion for bidding was done with approval of the Chief Restructuring Officer, William Snyder, who was appointed by Judge Michael Lynn.

“It certainly has been a long and winding road,” Selig said of the Rangers sale process. “Tom Hicks put the club into bankruptcy in January, and this has been an interesting but a very difficult process. The Greenberg/Ryan group has lived up to everything that they said they would, but we have to deal with the bankruptcy laws”

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Hicks did not place the Rangers into voluntary bankruptcy until May 24. The exclusivity agreement with the Greenberg/Ryan group was reached in December)

Selig said that the process needed to completed very quickly, and that he had spoken to Nolan Ryan this morning before court appointed mediation was to take place.

Selig said that Major League Baseball was not at the crux of the stalled process, but rather current ownership.

“I want to say this, this has nothing to do with baseball economics,” Selig said. “Sometimes that gets misunderstood. This has everything to do with Mr. Hicks and his personal economic situation."

Since December, the Greenberg/Ryan group has had an exclusivity agreement to work toward closing the sale, something that is being waived as part of the auction process. Selig made it clear that he, and the league, still support that group. “We’ve told everybody that, and I would have liked to see the Greenberg/Ryan group approved some time ago, but as we move forward, hopefully we can get this resolved.”

Selig was pleased that the bidding process will allow them to select the ownership group they wish to see installed, regardless of whether the Greenberg/Ryan group has the highest bid or not. Creditors for the Rangers have said repeatedly that Houston businessman Jim Crane has a higher bid on the table, which will play itself out should Crane pursue the purchase of the Rangers through the auction on July 16.

“Let me make this clear, baseball has always had the right to select their ownership,” Selig said. “There’s a long history of that that predates my entry into baseball in the 1970. So, I’m very, very comfortable in telling you that, yes, I was pleased [in the CRO’s advisement that MLB can ultimately approve the owners of the Rangers]. But there’s no doubt in my mind that we have the right to select ownership, and will do that.”

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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While Risky, Opening Up Bidding For Texas Rangers Should Assist Greenberg-Ryan Group PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 05 July 2010 23:47

Texas RangersLate on Monday,Texas Rangers Baseball Partners filed two documents that look to swiftly move the Texas Rangers out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The first motion opens the process up for other potential bidders, while the second motion requests to expedite a hearing for the bidding to July 16, a week from this coming Friday. Both documents were cleared by the Chief Restructuring Officer (CFO), William Snyder, making any chances for Judge Michael Lynn to reject the motions extremely thin.

The Greenberg/Ryan group claims “stalking horse” status, meaning any bid filed would have to exceed their $502 million bid for the Rangers assets by at least $20 million, or at least $522 million. Of that $20 million, $15 million would come back to the Greenberg/Ryan group as a “break-up fee” (the $15 million represents approximately 3% of the transaction value)

A statement by the Greenberg/Ryan group on Monday also says that they have secured the $575 million offering in escrow needed to complete the sale of the Rangers assets, as well as the land around the Ballpark, an exceptional move to prefund the sale, something rarely done. The move lays to rest persistent rumors that the group has been undercapitalized.

The Bid process is outlined as follows:

The Debtor shall (i) provide reasonable assistance to Qualified Bidders in conducting their due diligence investigations, (ii) receive offers from Qualified Bidders and (iii) keep the CRO and his counsel and advisors reasonably informed of those actions listed in (i) and (ii).

The CRO, in consultation with the Debtor, shall negotiate any offers made to purchase the TRBP Assets. Only a Qualified Bidder may participate in the bidding process. Neither the Debtor nor its representatives shall be obligated to furnish any information of any kind to any person who is not a Qualified Bidder.

To facilitate the Auction and to assist the Debtor and the CRO in assessing the terms of each bid, prospective bidders must work from the Asset Purchase Agreement (as defined in the Motion), to prepare their bids and mark all proposed changes to such agreement as part of their bid. The Asset Purchase Agreement is attached to the Motion as Exhibit C, and is also available on the main docket of these cases.

As noted, there is little time for potential bidders to get their ducks in a row, but in many senses is reasonable given that new bidders have access to all information that has been involved in the Greenberg/Ryan bid without having to make any investments to counter. The bids of any Qualified Bidder wanting to participate in the Auction must submit a Qualified Bid (as defined below) on or before July 16, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. (prevailing Central Time) (the “Bid Deadline”) in writing, to Texas Rangers Baseball Partners and William Snyder, the CRO. Each bidder will have to file a “Good Faith Deposit” of $1.5 million. As noted in the document:

Good Faith Deposits of all Qualified Bidders shall be held in a separate interest-bearing account for the Debtor’s benefit until the earlier of (a) August 12, 2010 or (b) consummation of a transaction involving any other Qualified Bidder for the TRBP Assets. If a Successful Bidder fails to consummate an approved Sale because of a breach or failure to perform on the part of such Successful Bidder, the Debtor will not have any obligation to return the Good Faith Deposit deposited by such Successful Bidder, and such Good Faith Deposit shall irrevocably become property of the Debtor without affecting or reducing any of the Debtor’s other rights or claims against such party.

The process is locked down, with exception. Under the section, Modification of Bidding Procedures, there is further wiggle room to allow the Greenberg/Ryan group to be selected.

Except as expressly provided herein, the procedures set forth herein cannot be amended or modified without the express written consent of the Proposed Buyer. The Debtor reserves the right to (i) withdraw its offer to sell the TRBP Assets at any time subsequent to the Auction, subject to payment of the Stalking Horse Protections if then due pursuant to the Bidding Procedures Order, and (ii) reject any or all bids other than the Stalking Horse Bid if, in the CRO’s reasonable business judgment, in consultation with the Debtor, such other bids are not for a fair and adequate price.

MLB’s acceptance of any bidder will be allowed to trump the outcome of the ruling by Judge Lynn at the Confirmation Hearing set for July 22 at 9:30am CT at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Eldon B. Mahon U.S. Courthouse. The hearing could extend into the next day. As outlined in the document:

Following the Confirmation Hearing and entry of a Court order approving the Successful Bid and Debtor’s Plan of Reorganization, the Qualified Bidder shall be required to seek the approval of Major League Baseball in accordance with the Major League Baseball Constitution, the MLB Guidelines, and other relevant rules and regulations of MLB. Should the Qualified Bidder be unable to obtain the requisite approval of MLB, then the Backup Bid shall be submitted to MLB for such approval.

If the highest bidder is not accepted, the “Backup Bidder” will be deemed to have won the auction and the creditors will be allowed to sue for damages, with the highest bidder being able to only recover the $1.5 million Good Faith Deposit:

If for any reason the entity or entities that submit(s) the Successful Bid fails to consummate the purchase of the TRBP Assets, the offeror of the Backup Bid (the “Backup Bidder”) will automatically be deemed to have submitted the highest and best bid, and the Debtor and such Backup Bidder are authorized to effect the sale of the TRBP Assets to such Backup Bidder as soon as is commercially reasonable. Following the Confirmation Hearing (i) if such failure to consummate the purchase is the result of a breach by the Successful Bidder, the Debtor reserves the right to seek all available damages from the defaulting Successful Bidder as modified by the terms of the asset purchase agreement reached pursuant to the Successful Bid and (ii) if such failure to consummate the purchase is the result of a breach by the Debtor, the Successful Bidder shall have no recourse against the Debtor other than for recovery of its Good Faith Deposit.

The open bidding is for the Texas Rangers assets and does not include the land around the Ballpark, a key source of revenue through parking, not only for Texas Rangers games, but for Dallas Cowboys games, as well. There is an existing "BRE Land Use Arrangement” which is a Memorandum Regarding Existing Land Use Arrangement by and between BRE and TRBP, dated as of May 20, 2010. The Greenberg/Ryan group has agreed to pay $70 million for the parcels. Any bidders would have to reach agreement on the 154 acres of land as part of a separate set of negotiations around the sale as the Lenders do not have liens against the land being sold.

Monday's motions are likely to make Tuesday's mediation hearing moot.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Greenberg/Ryan Group Say Full Amount for Texas Rangers Purchase in Escrow PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 05 July 2010 19:54

Texas Rangers

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS....

The following is a statement from the investor group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, the prospective bidders for the Texas Rangers:

The investor group led by sports attorney Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan confirmed today that it has received into escrow the full amount needed for the equity portion of its purchase of the Texas Rangers and has executed definitive financing agreements for the debt portion of the deal. This extraordinary step puts the Greenberg/Ryan group in position to close the transaction promptly upon confirmation of the Rangers' Chapter 11 plan (which pays all of the team's creditors in full) and Major League Baseball's final approval of the agreement.

"We wanted everyone to know that our proposal is fully funded, that we are ready to close and that our number one objective is to get the team out of Chapter 11 as quickly as possible," said Greenberg. "All we need is the Rangers getting their Chapter 11 plan confirmed and final approval from MLB."

In a related move, the Greenberg/Ryan group also announced it had negotiated terms with Rangers representatives and William Snyder, the Court-appointed chief restructuring officer for the team's parent holding companies, pursuant to which Greenberg and Ryan would waive their exclusive right to purchase the team and permit the $575 million transaction to be market tested for a second time.

This arrangement is intended to overcome the efforts of Hicks Sports Group lenders to extract additional payments by delaying the team's exit from Chapter 11. Instead of engaging the lenders in continued legal maneuvering that could be detrimental to the team, the Greenberg/Ryan Group agreed to give other potential purchasers one final opportunity to submit a topping bid. Subject to obtaining bankruptcy court approval, it is anticipated that July 16 will be the bid deadline and that the purchase of the team will be consummated by late July or early August.

"Our group was selected last December after an extensive marketing process because we put forward the strongest bid for the Rangers," said Greenberg. "Today, nearly seven months later, our bid is still superior and best serves the interests of the Rangers and their fans."

"Our goal is to do everything possible to bring this process to conclusion so that we can continue to build on the progress we've made on the field the past two seasons and so that the fans and our community can turn their full attention to this great season." said Ryan, who is a partner in the deal and would continue to serve as the team's president when the deal closes.

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Texas Rangers Confirmation Hearing Moved Back to July 22 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 01 July 2010 19:57

Texas RangersThe confirmation hearing to approve the prepackaged plan that would exit the Texas Rangers from Chapter 11 bankruptcy has moved, yet again, on the calendar, back to July 22 but keeps the July 6 mediation hearing date, a sign that the court appointed mediation process is a last ditch effort to get the creditors concessions that they will find acceptable, while satisfying MLB in keeping with the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan ownership group they wish to see control the club. As the court order reads:

The Honorable Russell F. Nelms, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Texas, is appointed to act as mediator (the “Mediator”). The following entities, (a) the Debtor, (b) Major League Baseball (including the Office of the Commissioner), (c) The Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders, (d) J.P. Morgan Chase, Administrative Agent for the First Lien Holders, (e) GSP Finance LLC, Administrative Agent for the Second Lien Holders ((c)– (e), collectively, the “Lenders”), (f) the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and (g) William Snyder, in his capacity as Chief Restructuring Officer of Rangers Equity Holdings, L.P. and Rangers Equity Holdings GP, LLC (all of the foregoing being referred to herein as the “Parties”) are ordered to mediation regarding the Debtor’s proposed plan of reorganization and treatment of the Lenders’ claims thereunder. In order to allow as much time as possible for the Parties to reach an accord, the mediation shall commence at 12:00 p.m. on July 6, 2010…… unless Judge Nelms directs that mediation occur at a different time or place. Once commenced, the mediation may continue, at the discretion of the Mediator, on July 8 and July 16 until concluded, or at such other times as directed by the Mediator.

Adding, that “The hearing on confirmation of the Debtor’s Plan is reset to July 22, 2010, at 9:30 a.m., and shall continue on July 23, 2010, at 9:30 a.m., if necessary.”

The moving of the confirmation hearing is part of a back and forth playing out on the calendar. The hearing, originally scheduled for July 9 was initially moved to the 22nd by Judge Lynn to allow time for mediation. Rangers Baseball Express, the investor group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan filed an emergency filing looking to bump the hearing back to its original July 9 date to allow time to be active at the trade deadline. Allowing more time in mediation should certainly assist in a stabilizing what has been a rocky period in the Texas Rangers sale case.

According to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, on July 16 a one-day auction is set for the sale of the club to the highest bidder. The open bid is part of Chief Restructuring Officer William Snider’s is expected recommendation to Judge D. Michael Lynn in the case.

But, the open bidding does not mean MLB has to approve any sale other than Greenberg/Ryan.

MLB President and COO Bob Dupuy confirmed the auction, but in speaking to the SportsBusiness Daily said, “No one has suggested that any auction occur that in anyway obviates MLB's clear and unambiguous right to approve or disapprove any ownership candidate,” he wrote in an e-mail. “There has been absolutely no discussion of that with either of the judges involved or the CRO.”

The league has said repeatedly that Crane would not be approved as an owner, which leaves the group led by Dennis Gilbert and Jeff Beck as the other group that will make a play for the highest bid.

But as noted by DuPuy, the CRO recognizes the approval process MLB has in terms of ownership. Everything appears to landing in mediation where the creditors, MLB, and the Greenberg/Ryan group need to come to some sort of amicable agreement to allow matters to move forward before the July 22 confirmation hearing… Of course unless the hearing moves on the calendar (again).


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Restructuring Officer Recommends Bidding Be Opened Back Up for Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 01 July 2010 14:11

Texas RangersUPDATE: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News is reporting that a one day auction for the Rangers will take place on July 16th. As Grant reports that, "Prospective CEO Chuck Greenberg, whose Rangers Baseball Express Group has held exclusive negotiating rights on the team since January, had to agree to the auction process."

Greenberg also holds "stalking horse" status. His bid of approximately $575 million will need to be beat by at least $10 million in order to select a new buyer, the source indicated. It is unclear if Greenberg can sweeten his bid between now and the time of the auction on the 16th.


On Monday, for a column for Forbes entitled Is a Decision Pre-Ordained in the Texas Rangers Bankruptcy Case?, I wrote:

Some have seen the fact that the tongue-lashing [from Judge Lynn], along with bumping the court date, and court appointed mediation, as signs that Lynn is leaning toward the creditors in this case, will therefore not approve the prepackaged plan, and thus throw the case into disarray.

Those close to the situation believe Judge Lynn’s tirade is cover for a decision that has been pre-ordained, and the bidding process will be opened back up for the likes of Houston businessman Jim Crane to step back in. In discussions, some analysts I have spoken to pondered whether the mediation process is a way to open the bidding back up “under the radar”, that is, without officially doing so before Lynn rules on the prepackaged plan.

It seems that this “nuclear” option stands a chance of becoming the truth.

According to Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal, William Snyder, the court appointed chief restructuring officer (CRO), has informed MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy that he is recommending that the bidding be opened back up in the Texas Rangers sale. As reported:

Federal judge Michael Lynn is scheduled to approve or turn down the team’s amended bankruptcy plan next Friday.

If Lynn approves the plan, the creditors would likely appeal the decision to a federal appeals court in New Orleans. To do so, they would need an immediate stay and likely have to post a $525 million bond, the amount of principal owed. But the lenders might not need to if the judge and the chief restructuring officer decide there are better offers for the team.

At that point all eyes will turn to MLB. After a hearing in the case last week, MLB’s chief outside counsel Stephen Shimshak said on an open telephone line, as reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and confirmed by multiple sources to SportsBusiness Journal, that if the judge turns down the plan, MLB would respond by taking over the franchise. Shimshak did not reply to a request for comment.

As I said more than once on Dallas/Ft. Worth area radio last week, I believe MLB’s threat is very real. I also don’t see how any other group other than Greenberg/Ryan would be accepted by the league. They have repeatedly stated that they support only that group, and to change that direction would signal that MLB (and other sports leagues) no longer are in charge of who they select as part of the ownership collection within the league.  As I further opined for Forbes on Monday (see Will the Texas Rangers Case Go Nuclear?):

This “nuclear winter”, that would likely pale what has already transpired, could wind up creating a landmark case in which the selection of an owner by a league, is at stake. In that, the case of the Texas Rangers would move well beyond the scope of just Major League Baseball. It would become the litmus test for all sports leagues. Where league control was part of the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy case, with relocation more the focus, the Rangers case could define it.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Court Documents Gives Rare Glimpse Into Finances of Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 29 June 2010 16:58

Texas RangersUPDATE: Response by Jamey Newberg added.


According to court documents filed today in the Texas Rangers voluntary bankruptcy case, the club is is in danger of seeing gross income lower this year than last, and may not meet last year’s totals, an increase from 2008. The documents are a rare glimpse into the finances of a Major League club.

According the Statement of Financial Affairs for the Rangers, the club had $54,933,861 in gross income as of 5/31/10. Last year, the club saw $167,367,982 in total gross income, compared to $149,461,715 for 2008.

The document also gives a rare glimpse into how much front office personnel make, including current owner, Tom Hicks. Hicks is shown to have made $183,594 in salary from 6/15/09 - 5/24/10 with expenses of $14,452. However, Hicks Holding, LLC saw $64,737.85 in reimbursements for travel expenses and TOH Investors, LP, an entity directly or indirectly owned and controlled by Hicks saw $1,966,644.65 under an “A/R Factoring Agreement”.

(SEE THE DOCUMENT, WHICH ALSO DETAILS EXPENSES)

And Hicks is not the only executive to see salary information released. From 5/29/09- 5/24/10 current president of the Rangers and prospective owner Nolan Ryan made $1,540,527 in salary with $85,750 in expenses. Kellie Fischer, the Rangers CFO made $235,081 in salary and bonuses with $1,284 in expenses from 5/29/09- 5/24/10.

In addition, the Rangers have racked up $801,721 in legal fees to five different law firms dealing with payments related to debt counseling or bankruptcy.

On top of the voluntary and involuntary bankruptcy cases, the Rangers are involved in 5 other suits or administrative proceedings, including a case by former Rangers scout Roney Calderon who is seeking $100,000 in severance pay.

The document has detailed ledger of expenses, ranging from New ERA cap, and Rawlings. But what may be of interest to media surrounds redacted sections of the ledger for expenses to Jamey Newberg of the popular The Newberg Report blog. From the Star-Telegram:

Jamison "Jamey" Newberg, who operates a popular website, The Newberg Report, was paid $27,125 by the team from February through April, according to the court document filed late Monday.

Newberg said the payments likely were for books he sold the club. And while he received no money for his blog, the Rangers did finance his family's trip to spring training in Surprise, Ariz.

A lengthy 2004 Dallas Observer article described Newberg's blog as a must-read for fans and even baseball beat writers and team officials who, it said, were initially suspicious of Newberg.

There is no disclaimer on his blog site that Newberg has been paid for services to the Rangers. Near the end of the Observer piece, the weekly said: "Perhaps one day Newberg will finally get what he wants — a shot at working for a big-league club."

Early on Weds. Newberg responded by saying:

I do provide content to the Rangers every week for their own website, and provide content to the Rangers every month for their gameday program, and provide thousands of abridged Bound Editions to the Rangers every year so they can give a copy to each of their season ticket accounts. For a few years I also wrote and recorded video packages every homestand for the Rangers to air on the video board between innings; we’ve shelved that project so far this season. I don’t give those things away. I have been compensated by the Rangers for those things, and also get some of my spring training trip reimbursed – that’s a working week for me.

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Texas Rangers File Amendment to "Prepacked Plan" to Address Judge's Concerns PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 28 June 2010 01:37

Texas Rangers

UPDATE: See Is a Decision Pre-Ordained in the Texas Rangers Bankruptcy Case? on Forbes SportsMoney for additional information on the Texas Rangers case.


Texas Rangers Baseball Partners, the current owners of the Texas Rangers, have filed an amended version of the “prepackaged plan” that seems to address requirements by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn that would lift “impairments” to certain classes of creditors of the ballclub. If those impairments are lifted, the plan, that is designed to pay the secured and unsecured lenders of the Rangers, would no longer be able to block the sale via vote.

First Lien Holder Claim section (as well as the section for Second Lien Holder Claims that has the same verbiage, but has “First Lien Holder” replaced with “Second Lien Holder”, reads:

On the Effective Date, an amount of Cash equal to $75 million (or the amount outstanding under the First Lien Credit Agreement and Second Lien Credit Agreement if less than $75 million is outstanding in the aggregate under the First Lien Credit Agreement and Second Lien Credit Agreement on the Effective Date), together with postpetition interest for the period from the Commencement Date through the Effective Date (to the extent the Bankruptcy Court determines that holders of such Claims are entitled to postpetition interest in order for such Claims to be unimpaired), shall be paid to JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., as administrative agent for the holders of Allowed First Lien Holder Claims, to be applied in accordance with the First Lien Credit Agreement, the Second Lien Credit Agreement, and the Intercreditor Agreement. On and after the Effective Date, the holders of Allowed First Lien Holder Claims shall retain all existing contractual rights against the Debtor or its affiliates to which they are entitled under the First Lien Credit Agreement and related documents.

The plan has also been updated to address the right of the creditors to sue for damages. The sections for the First and Second Lien Holders reads:

Right to Pursue Damages On and after the Effective Date, the holders of Allowed [First and Second] Lien Holder Claims shall retain all existing contractual rights against the Debtor or its affiliates to which they areentitled under the First Lien Credit Agreement and related documents.

What is unclear is whether these changes will allow the third class, TRBP Equity Interest, to then have its impairment lifted. The latest amended document shows no changes from prior versions and continues to read, “The Debtor submits that [TRBP Equity Interest] is unimpaired by the Prepackaged Plan, each holder of an Allowed TRBP Equity Interest is not entitled to vote to accept or reject the Prepackaged Plan, and should be conclusively deemed to accept the Prepackaged Plan.”

The update to the prepackaged plan comes after Judge Lynn had set a July 22 confirmation hearing date, that was later moved back to July 9 after an emergency motion to keep that date was filed by Ranger Baseball Express, the investor group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan. While Lynn agreed to keep the date, it came with stern words from the judge about the situation at hand.

“You guys, not me, you guys are the ones who pushed for this,” Lynn told them. “For the sake of the Rangers, I do not want to see this team stuck in Chapter 11 until this fall.”

He added, “We will not decide based on what the fans want ... what the media wants ... what Mr. Ryan or Mr. Greenberg wants, or what (Baseball Commissioner) Bud Selig wants. I will deny confirmation, and we’re back to square one, and it will be on the heads of those who support this motion.”

To add further tension to the case, Stephen Shimshak, an attorney representing the Commissioner’s Office, let the following fly after the phone conference was done, not knowing that the call was still on.

"If [Lynn] doesn’t confirm the plan we’ll just terminate the franchise. We'll take over the g--damn franchise."

Look for more on Forbes SportsMoney later on Monday.

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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UPDATE: Judge Agrees to Not Delay Hearing in Texas Rangers Case, But Chastises Greenberg/Ryan Group PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 25 June 2010 10:42

Texas RangersUPDATE #2: Adds quotes from Lynn link to Forbes story (Will the Texas Rangers Case Go Nuclear?)

UPDATE #1: Sources indicate that Judge Lynn has accepted the motion to reconsider and that mediation has been set for July 6 with the confirmation hearing set back to the July 9 date, confirmed by multiple sources.


Yesterday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn ordered the sides in the Texas Rangers bankruptcy case into mediation, and in doing so, rescheduled the July 9 confirmation hearing on the “prepackaged plan”, bumping it to July 22.

Today, a motion to reconsider the July 22 rescheduled hearing date was filed by Rangers Baseball Express, the prospective ownership group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, citing the July 31 trade deadline and other business related matters, as part of the reason for reconsideration.  The motion seeks to have the hearing no later than July 12.

The motion reads in part, “This case is very time sensitive. Despite its excellent on-field performance during the 2010 season to-date, the Texas Rangers franchise is cash poor and operates with significant negative cash flow... There is no indication that further delays serves the best interests of anyone.”

The motion addresses potential changes to Rangers Ballpark that the prospective ownership group would make in the off-season, should they gain control of the club.

“RBE plans to make certain material capital improvements to Rangers Ballpark before next season. Some of these planned improvements require more than a full offseason to design, procure, construct, and complete. The delays in the sale process that have already taken place present significant challenges to completing these projects prior to Opening Day 2011. Further delays gravely risk the ability to complete the projects on time, which would have a material adverse impact on the franchise’s performance in 2011.”

Judge Lynn approved the motion, but that doesn’t mean the change came easy or without considerable bluster from Judge Lynn.

“You guys, not me, you guys are the ones who pushed for this,” Lynn told them. “For the sake of the Rangers, I do not want to see this team stuck in Chapter 11 until this fall.”

The tongue lashing didn’t stop there, and at least one bankruptcy attorney’s face blushed scarlet.

“We will not decide based on what the fans want ... what the media wants ... what Mr. Ryan or Mr. Greenberg wants, or what (Baseball Commissioner) Bud Selig wants,” Lynn declared from the bench. If the revised plan falls short of satisfactorily addressing the interests of all affected parties, “I will deny confirmation, and we’re back to square one, and it will be on the heads of those who support this motion.”

Originally, a July 2 date was set for the confirmation hearing on the “prepackaged plan”, but was moved to July 9 to allow Judge Lynn to return from vacationing on a cruise.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: For more on today's events, see Maury Brown's latest on Forbes SportsMoney, Will the Texas Rangers Case Go Nuclear?)

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Key Creditors in Texas Rangers Bankruptcy Case Issue Statement on Tuesday's Ruling PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 22:07

Texas Rangers

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

The Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders (collectively, the “Lenders”) in the Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (“TRBP”) bankruptcy matter today issued the following statement in connection with today’s Court ruling:

"We welcome today's developments, in which Judge Lynn upheld the Lenders’ initial and long-standing conviction: that the current plan to sell the Texas Rangers impairs the Lenders, as well as Rangers Equity Owners, and gives them a right to consent to the proposed sale. Also, in today’s hearing, Judge Lynn confirmed the parties’ agreement to the appointment of William Snyder as a Chief Restructuring Officer of the Rangers Equity Holders,an independent fiduciary charged with ensuring that the plan that is put forward is in the best interests of the creditors of these equity holders, including the Lenders, who have claims of more than $500 million against those equity holders."

MORE DETAILS AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Greenberg/Ryan Group Issues Statement on Bankruptcy Texas Rangers Ruling PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 21:15

Texas RangersThe folloiwng is a statement released by Rangers Baseball Express, LLC, the group of investors led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan regarding today's ruling by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge:

United States Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Michael Lynn issued a Memorandum Opinion today addressing certain key legal issues regarding the bankruptcy of the Texas Rangers and the proposed plan of reorganization.  The proposed buyer of the Texas Rangers, Rangers Baseball Express, LLC, the investor group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, is pleased with the Judge’s ruling.  The opinion lays out a road map to rapid confirmation of the plan, consistent with the schedule established when the case was filed.

The plan calls for the sale of the Texas Rangers to Rangers Baseball Express, LLC.  Central to the opinion was the contention of the Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders (the “Lenders”) that they be granted an effective veto over any proposed sale of the Rangers.  Judge Lynn ruled that the Bankruptcy Code does not require that the plan confer such rights and  determined the plan may go forward with certain modifications, described in the Opinion, to protect the legal rights of the Lenders.  Such modifications can be made by Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (the “Debtor”) without the consent of the Lenders.  If those modifications are made, the Lenders will be deemed to have accepted the plan and will not be entitled to vote against it and will not have the ability to block the sale.

Judge Lynn rejected the Lenders’ argument that they are entitled to speak in the bankruptcy case for the two general partners that own the Debtor.  He determined that the Rangers’ equity owners, and not the Lenders, would continue to speak for those entities.  In determining whether to accept or reject the plan, the Rangers’ equity owners  are required to seek court approval and will need to act in a manner consistent with the fiduciary duties imposed by the Bankruptcy Code.

In a separate hearing today, Judge Lynn appointed William Snyder, a prominent corporate restructuring specialist in Dallas, as the Chief Restructuring Officer for the two general partners.  Mr. Snyder will have the opportunity review the proposed plan and determine whether the contemplated sale of the Texas Rangers to Rangers Baseball Express, LLC would serve the best interests of the two general partners, the Debtor, and their creditors.  Rangers Baseball Express, LLC welcomes the appointment of Mr. Snyder and has confidence that, after a careful and timely review, he will conclude that confirmation of the plan on the schedule currently set by the Court would serve the best interests of the Texas Rangers, its owners, and their creditors.

The ruling is consistent with an Order, entered on June 21, 2010, to schedule a hearing to confirm the plan for July 9, 2010.  At that hearing, the Debtor will be required to prove the plan meets the standards for confirmation under the Bankruptcy Code.

MORE DETAILS AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE

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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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