Rangers' Auction in Limbo After Opposition

By Angela K. Brown
|  Friday, Jul 9, 2010  |  Updated 11:30 AM CDT
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Rangers' Auction in Limbo After Opposition

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ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 05: An exterior view of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

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An auction to sell the Texas Rangers was in limbo Thursday following opposition to the process that would have been controlled by Major League Baseball.

Just days after seeking court approval for the July 16 auction, the team withdrew its motion Thursday following opposition from the court-appointed restructuring officer in the bankruptcy case. William K. Snyder, appointed to make sure the team was maximizing its assets, said he no longer supported the Rangers' bidding process but still believed the team should be sold at an auction.

"(Snyder) approved the motion before it was filed and supported the motion at the time it was filed. Based on changes in facts and circumstances since the filing of the motion, however, (Snyder) has concluded that the motion is no longer in the best interests of the (team's ownership)," Snyder's attorneys wrote in court documents filed Thursday.

Snyder did not say which terms of the proposed auction he did not like or if his rejection was based on any issues that arose during this week's mediation between the team and its angry creditors.

Outside experts had suggested the narrow guidelines in the bidding process were a clever maneuver to push through the long-delayed sale to the MLB's preferred buyer, a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg.

But Snyder plans to finalize new bidding procedures quickly and present them to the judge for approval, although court documents did not give a timetable on the revisions or auction.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn was to decide Friday on whether to approve the auction and its terms, but instead the team and creditors will meet to discuss the issue.

If an auction is not held July 16, the delay could push back the July 22 confirmation hearing, in which Snyder will recommend whether the team's bankruptcy plan should be approved. The American League West-leading Rangers want to resolve the case quickly.

The team filed for Chapter 11 protection in May with a plan to pay creditors $75 million and sell the Rangers to the Greenberg-Ryan group. The sale had been stalled for months by lenders' concerns over $525 million in loan defaults by team owner Tom Hicks' ownership group.

After creditors' numerous objections to the team's bankruptcy plan, the Rangers agreed to an auction after Snyder indicated that was the only way he would consider approving the plan.

It's unclear how the bidding procedures will change. In the team's auction proposal filed Monday, Major League Baseball would decide who was eligible to bid and set strict guidelines, including a $1.5 million deposit and an opening bid of more than $500 million. The league could have rejected the highest bidder and selected the runner-up instead.

The motion also included paying a $15 million "break-up" fee to the Greenberg-Ryan group if it was not chosen as the buyer.

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