The Texas Rangers plan to hold an auction next week for the team's sale in hopes of getting the bankruptcy plan approved, according to a court motion filed Monday.
The team, which had a pending sale to a group led by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan, set a July 16 auction for bidders who meet certain Major League Baseball requirements.
Selling the team to the Greenberg-Ryan group and paying creditors $75 million was part of the Rangers' bankruptcy plan when it filed for Chapter 11 protection in May, but creditors have opposed that plan.
"It became clear ... following discussions with the (court-appointed chief restructuring officer) that (he) would be more likely to support and vote to approve the prepackaged plan following an auction process," Rangers' attorneys said in the motion. "The (team) understands that a competitive bidding process is the preferred method of the lenders."
Greenberg and Ryan said Monday that they believe their $575 million bid "is still superior and best serves the interests of the Rangers and their fans." They said they have put that money into an escrow account in anticipation of closing the deal.
"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," Ryan said in a statement.
The Greenberg-Ryan group waived its exclusive right to buy the team, but the group will receive a $15 million "break-up" fee if someone else is selected as the buyer.
A confirmation hearing on the team's bankruptcy plan is still set for July 22. A decision will be based on recommendations from William K. Snyder, the chief restructuring officer appointed to review financial matters in the case and the proposed sale.
The team's sale has been stalled for months by creditors' concerns over team owner Tom Hicks' financially strapped ownership group.
The creditors have argued that the team doesn't just owe $75 million, but is obligated to pay more than $525 million in loans that Hicks Sports Group defaulted on last year. Creditors also have argued that the Greenberg-Ryan bid -- which Major League Baseball endorses -- was not the highest.
Creditors also have said that because last month's bankruptcy filing removed their rights to approve the team's sale, the Rangers acted in bad faith, which would violate bankruptcy codes.