MLB Disappointed Texas Rangers' Sale Delayed

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Ballpark in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers, Arlington, Texas.

    Major League Baseball is disappointed the proposed sale of the Texas Rangers from Tom Hicks to Chuck Greenberg's group has been stalled by a dispute involving the lenders to the team's owner.

    The sides announced an agreement on Jan. 23, but creditors of the Hicks Sports Group, which owns the Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars, have not approved it.

    "We've gone since January on this. We hoped to have it closed on or about opening day, and we're disappointed it's not closed yet," Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, told The Associated Press on Tuesday before an All-Star game news conference.

    "Tom Hicks and the buyer are trying to get the transaction completed," DuPuy said. "The commissioner has had considerable contact with the parties, and we're working closely. We understood that because of the Hicks Sports Group debt -- the parent company and not the team -- that there were issues with regard to the parent company lenders.

    "We've met with them, as well, and we're trying to work through that. We think the purchase agreement for the consideration being paid for the Rangers represents a fair purchase price, and we're anxious to see the deal closed as written. But I'm not going to predict."

    Hicks Sports Group said in February it had retained Galatioto Sports Partners to look for new investors and explore the idea of selling a majority stake in the Dallas Stars.

    Separately, Hicks and George Gillette Jr. said Friday they had hired Barclays Bank to lead the search for a buyer for Liverpool, which they co-own under a separate entity.

    Once the lenders approve the sale, it also must be approved by three-quarters of the 30 teams.

    The same process resulted in the approval of Frank and Jamie McCourt when they bought the Los Angeles Dodgers from Fox. Despite the McCourt's divorce proceedings, DuPuy said MLB doesn't have any second thoughts about approving them.

    "The McCourts have done a fine job operating the Dodgers," DuPuy said. "Their personal situation is sad for them, but no one has any regrets about the McCourts' ownership of the Dodgers. They have said they have no intention to sell the team, and I take them at their word."

    Meanwhile, about 35 miles down the freeway, Angels owner Arte Moreno is eagerly anticipating the All-Star game on July 13 and the chance to show off his ballpark. He cringed a little when asked whether changing the name of the team to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from the Anaheim Angels helped the club gain the right to host the All-Stars.

    "That's a tough question, but I'm not going to comment on that right now. I don't want to start a firestorm over something we don't need to start a firestorm on," Moreno said. "It's the No. 2 media market, and there are 18 million people in the Metroplex. So you really want to be in a situation where you can really showcase everything we have to offer here.

    "I started grinding on this five years ago," Moreno added. "Every meeting I had my little presentation book and showed them why they should be coming to Southern California. People forget what a hotbed of baseball California is."

    Also attending Tuesday's news conference promoting the All-Star balloting was former Angels great Rod Carew, who played in 18 All-Star games -- including the previous one in Anaheim as a rookie second baseman in 1967. The NL won that year on Tony Perez's 15th-inning homer against Catfish Hunter

    Joining Carew was Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, a three-time All-Star who robbed Barry Bonds of a home run in the 2002 contest at Milwaukee -- which ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings when the teams ran out of pitchers.

    Hunter grew up in Pine Bluff, Ark., so he didn't get a chance to stuff the ballot box for his favorite player -- a practice that resumed in 1970 when the voting for All-Stars was given back to the fans. But if he had the chance back then, he said he would have cast votes for Andre Dawson, elected to the Hall of Fame this year.

    "He was one of my favorite players," said Hunter, who finished fourth in the balloting for AL outfielders last year. "He's one of the guys that really inspired me to play the game -- watching him every day with my granddad on WGN. We watched baseball all the time. Andre Dawson was with the Cubs and hit 49 home runs one year, so that's the guy I would have stuffed the ballot box for."