MLB: Texas Rangers file for bankruptcy; Ryan plans to buy
By Bob Van Voris and Dawn McCarty
Bloomberg News Service
The Texas Rangers, the Major League Baseball team controlled by billionaire Thomas Hicks, filed for bankruptcy to facilitate a sale to investors led by team president Nolan Ryan and his partner Chuck Greenberg.
The Arlington, Texas-based ballclub listed assets and debt of between $100 million and $500 million in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Fort Worth, Texas.
Alex Rodriguez, now the third baseman for the New York Yankees, was listed as the Rangers' top unsecured creditor.
"I want to assure all our fans that this process will not affect the day-to-day management of the team as we continue to compete for a playoff spot in 2010," Ryan said in a letter to fans posted on the team's website.
The club is the second Major League Baseball team to enter bankruptcy in less than a year after the Chicago Cubs in October joined owner Tribune Co. in Chapter 11 as part of that team's sale.
The team has asked the bankruptcy court to approve the sale at a hearing in 45 days, according to a posting on the team's website. The sale should be completed by mid-summer, Ryan said.
Hicks bought the team in 1998 from an investor group that included then-Texas Governor George W. Bush. The value of the team, purchased for $250 million, fell to $405 million last year from $412 million in 2008, Forbes magazine reported in April.
The franchise, which began play in 1961 as the expansion Washington Senators, moved to Texas for the 1972 season. The team has made the playoffs three times, never making it past the first round. In 2000, the Rangers signed Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million contract, then the biggest in history.
Hicks, 64, who served as chairman of private-equity firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc. from 1989 through 2004, is trying to sell the Liverpool Football Club, the 18-time English soccer champion that Hicks co-owns with George Gillett.
Rodriguez was traded to New York in February 2004 in exchange for then All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano and infielder Joaquin Arias. Texas also agreed to pay about $67 million of the $179 million that remained on Rodriguez's contract.
A message left at the office of Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent, wasn't immediately returned.