ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan remains confident that he will be adding the title of team co-owner to his resume.
A federal bankruptcy judge is still sorting out the club-initiated bankruptcy designed to spur completion of the sale of the team from Tom Hicks to a group led by Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher, and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg.
“We’re still confident that we’re going to get the deal done,” Ryan said. “We’re still in the process, so we’ll just have to wait and see, but we’ve been kind of in this position for quite a while now.”
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn in Fort Worth said Tuesday that the Rangers will have to change their bankruptcy plan to avoid having it stopped by upset creditors.
But Lynn didn’t say the team would have to change the $75 million the team owes, and didn’t indicate that the bidding process for the team should reopen because the Greenberg-Ryan bid of $575 million was not the highest.
A final decision on the plan could come at a July 9 hearing.
“It’s just part of the process, and it’s out of our control. So we just basically deal with what we deal with on a day-to- day basis of running the ballclub and just wait and see what actually happens,” Ryan said. “I don’t look at anything as being a setback unless something else comes up that we’re unaware of.”
Greenberg also expressed confidence that the deal will get done. He attended the Rangers’ game Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, sitting with Ryan in the owners’ seats on the first row by the Texas dugout.
The team’s pending sale to the Greenberg-Ryan group was announced in January after more than a month of exclusive negotiations. But creditors’ concerns over the financially strapped Hicks Sports Group have stalled the deal. The team filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy hoping that could push the sale along.
At a hearing last week, creditors argued that the team doesn’t just owe $75 million but is obligated to pay more than $525 million in loans Hicks’ ownership group defaulted on last year.
The Rangers went into Wednesday night’s game with a nine-game winning streak that was the longest in the majors, and a 3½-game lead in the AL West over the Los Angeles Angels.
Texas, which hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1999, could be looking to make moves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to improve the team for a possible pennant chase. How much the Rangers do could depend on if the bankruptcy is resolved and the sale completed.
“All along, we’ve kind of approached it from the standpoint that we prepared a budget last year and we have the ability to operate within that budget to improve the club,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Anything outside of that would require new ownership to be in place. We’re not looking for that necessarily.”
Ryan said it is hard to predict what the Rangers might do by July 31, but the judge has made it apparent that he knows how important that date is for the team.
“I know the judge doesn’t want the bankruptcy to encumber us anymore than it absolutely has to, so I think he’s quite aware of what goes on in baseball,” Ryan said. “So I think he’s going to try and do what he can to make sure that we’re not penalized.”