It doesn’t seem that long ago, but tomorrow, it will have been 30 days since current Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he had entered into an exclusive negotiating window to sell the club to Chuck Greenberg, a Pittsburgh attorney who has worked with the likes of Mario Lemieux and Bernie Kosar to assist them in purchasing sports clubs. Greenberg has current Rangers president Nolan Ryan as one of his partners, and in what might seem an odd twist to some, Hicks (the seller) would be retained as a minority partner, as well.
It’s the latter that might move tomorrow’s self-imposed deadline, out further. A report by MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan delves into how much ownership equity Hicks would like to retain. According to Sullivan, Hicks would remain on the board of the Rangers, and “could be the second largest investor in the group.” Hicks and his son, Tom Jr. met with MLB president and COO, Bob DuPuy yesterday to update him on the process. Hicks told the media he would not speak on how the negotiations were progressing until after tomorrow’s 30-day negotiating window had expired.
As we reported at the outset (see How Chuck Greenberg Won The Texas Rangers and Sizing Up the Sale of the Texas Rangers), Greenberg and his 12 partners, which includes Ryan, will win the day and wind up owning the Rangers. Recent history with the sale of the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family has shown the while exclusive negotiating windows can be set, it is possible to extend past them. We would not be surprised if that were to occur with the sale of the Rangers, possibly to 45 days, but before Spring Training were in full swing.
Also, the sale of the Cubs saw the negotiating window pass, and the injection of prior bidders back into the mix. For that deal, Tribune brought Marc Utay’s group back in to get the Ricketts family to nudge the bidding price up. While it’s possible that Hicks could bring former bidder Jim Crane back into the mix, it seems unlikely. The current negotiating issue appears centered around how much ownership control Hicks will retain, rather than scuttling the whole deal. Inserting Crane back into the mix would not seem to serve any purpose in that equation.
Once the sales agreement were to be reached, presumably with the Greenberg/Ryan group, the final steps would be passing the muster of MLB’s Executive and Ownership Committees before needing approval from 75 percent of the league’s 30 owners to finalize the ownership transfer. Depending on how far along the negotiations are with the Greenberg group, that process could take place on the final day of the quarterly owners meetings occurring today in Paradise Valley, AZ., regardless of whether the sales agreement is fully consummated, or not. Approval by MLB ahead of the completed sale has happened pror, most recently with the Cubs sale.
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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