Tom Hicks has been given a Dec. 15 deadline to accept a winning big for the sale of the Texas Rangers, but that decision could be announced as early as next week’s winter meetings with two final bidders in play.
Jon Heyman of SI.com did a lengthy piece on Weds. that paints former superagent Dennis Gilbert as the surprise frontrunner. Heyman reported that, “In recent years he's raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for needy scouts through his Professional Scouts Foundation. His bid for the Rangers has been boosted by the support of baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. And, as happened many times in the past, Gilbert probably was underestimated in his efforts.”
The other bidder in the mix is Pittsburgh-based sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, who is partnering with current Rangers president, Nolan Ryan. That group also includes former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach.
The man that could be on the outside looking in is Hicks. With his Hicks Sports Group $525 million in debt, he is looking to sell the club to pay down that debt, yet looking to retain as much controlling interest in the Rangers as possible.
The latest attempt by Hicks to come up with an acceptable bid to retain control involved some creativity involved. As reported by the Dallas Morning News:
Since announcing two weeks ago that he was forming his own group to try and hold on to the team, Hicks has engaged in serious talks with Fox Sports about a contract extension of the club's broadcast rights, but, according to industry sources, those talks have come to a halt. The reason for the stoppage, according to those sources, is that Major League Baseball has balked at the contract extension that calls for an immediate injection of cash but could leave the team with lower TV revenues down the road.
A new deal with Fox would probably make it easier for Hicks Sports Group to pay down debt but might still require Hicks to take on a partner to operate the club going forward. According to one source, Hicks has engaged the group headed by former agent Dennis Gilbert about a partnership that would allow the current owner to maintain a significant role in the club's hierarchy. Gilbert would probably become more heavily involved in the baseball operations side. A report on SI.com Wednesday tabbed Gilbert the front-runner for control of the club but did not mention the possibility of a partnership.
NOTE: The Biz of Baseball will be on the ground in Indianapolis for the Baseball Winter Meetings starting late Sunday night until Weds. evening. Look for first-account reports should the Rangers sale be announced.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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