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News and information about the sale of all or part of any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

Greenberg/Ryan Group Believes Texas Rangers Sale Done Before Opening Day PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 05 March 2010 13:06

Texas Rangers

It has been all but quiet on the media front regarding the sale of the Texas Rangers to a group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Rangers president, Nolan Ryan, but that should could change shortly.

The sale, which is being reviewed by the 40 creditors of Hicks Sports Group, the club’s current owner, has a target date of Opening Day for the deal to be completed. Seventy-five percent of MLB’s 30 owners needs to approve the deal, but that is seen as a formality.

A high-ranking source in the Greenberg/Ryan group is “feeling good about” getting the ownership transfer done by Opening Day, adding “this certainly will be a busy month for tying down loose ends.”

More details as they surface.


Maury BrownMaury 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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Source: Creditor Meeting Over Rangers Sale "Unremarkable" PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 02:46

Texas RangersAccording to a high ranking source, a Tuesday meeting at MLB headquarters between creditors looking to voice concerns over the structure of the sales agreement for the Texas Rangers from Hicks Sports Group to a collection of 12 investors led by Pittsburgh attorny Chuck Greenberg and current Rangers president Nolan Ryan did not yield anything that could be deemed a deal killer. The source said nothing remarkable took place during the meeting, and as of early Weds. morning, had not heard any other news to think otherwise.

HSG and the Greenberg/Ryan group completed the sales agreement for the Rangers in mid-January. According to Monday’s edition of the SportsBusiness Daily, the specific issues that the creditors have concerns over revolve around “$390M of cash changing hands, with the difference assumed liabilities. And of that the banks would only get $250M, sources said. Before they get paid, according to the deal, [Tom] Hicks would be paid for the real estate around the ballpark, MLB must be paid for loans it forwarded the team, and Rangers investment bankers, Merrill Lynch and Raine get paid too.”

The reported sale price for the Rangers has said to be between $530-$570 million. Once concerns by the creditors has been addressed, final approval by 75 percent of MLB’s 30 owners must occur. The hope by the potential ownership group and MLB is that the ownership transfer is completed before spring training.

Look for more updates regarding the sale of the Rangers as it becomes available

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While Creditors Unhappy with Arrangement, Expect Sale of Texas Rangers to Greenberg to Proceed


Maury BrownMaury 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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While Creditors Unhappy with Arrangement, Expect Sale of Texas Rangers to Greenberg to Proceed PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 12:05

Texas RangersA meeting this afternoon between members of the prospective group purchasing the Texas Rangers and creditors of Hicks Sports Group will take place at MLB headquarters in New York, with talk that the creditors are not pleased with the arrangement of the sales agreement between HSG and a group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and current Rangers president and hall of fame pitcher, Nolan Ryan. According to the SportsBusiness Daily, the specific issues revolve around “$390M of cash changing hands, with the difference assumed liabilities. And of that the banks would only get $250M, sources said. Before they get paid, according to the deal, [Tom] Hicks would be paid for the real estate around the ballpark, MLB must be paid for loans it forwarded the team, and Rangers investment bankers, Merrill Lynch and Raine get paid too.”

One source, presumably on the creditors side of the table, describe the situation as a “train wreck” adding, “We will be better off in bankruptcy court.”

It’s the latter that should be the focus. The meeting – not in a courtroom, but rather 245 Park where MLB headquarters are located – gives you an indication as to how much leverage the creditors have at the moment. The meeting is clearly designed to obtain more money for the creditors, and possibly restructure the deal so that the banks receive payment before other parties.

Beyond that, expect the transfer of ownership to move forward. Here’s why.

The issues at hand with the creditors deal with Hicks Sports Group. Unless HSG is pushed into bankruptcy court, or the creditors sue HSG, the issues around the structure of the deal should not impede it from moving forward. To lend credence to that position, according to the Dallas Morning News, neither Chuck Greenberg nor Nolan Ryan will be in attendance for today’s meeting. Greenberg has been the lead in negotiations to this point. If the meeting were of critical importance, he would be seated at the table.

The Dallas Morning News mentions the attempted purchase of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes to RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie as a precedent for creditors not receiving full payment in a sales transaction when a better offer has been on the table. While there is some level of truth to that situation, the Coyotes deal also dealt, in large part, with Balsillie looking to relocate the club to Canada outside of the NHL’s approval process. The Rangers sale does not have this component in the mix.

Both the sale price of $570 million and the figure cited as $390 million in cash changing by the SBD, is being dismissed by sources to the Dallas Morning News. More news as it becomes available.


Maury BrownMaury 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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"Predator" Hedge Fund Could Throw Wrench in Texas Rangers Sale PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 01:16

Texas RangersFor the majority of Texas Rangers fans, the statement from Hicks Sports Group saying that a sales agreement between HSG and a group of investors headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan was a sign that the end had finally come, new owners were on the way.

But, in a case where Hicks Sports Group debt is still hanging over the heads of the Rangers, there’s a chance that the deal may not meet the muster of HSG’s biggest lender.

One of the final steps in the process includes approval from the 40 creditors that HSG is in debt to before approval from MLB. As reported by Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal, Monarch Alternative Capital, a hedge fund that now owns $100 million of the $525 million of debt that Tom Hicks has incurred may be a deciding factor in the sale. Monarch Alternative Capital is known as a “distressed debt buyer” or in more unflattering terms, a “predator” that looks to “buy debt at a discount from banks that hold defaulted loans and then hopes to make more by selling the assets.”

Because Monarch is in the business of extracting as much of a profit as possible in these types of deals, they could have a considerable say in the matter. As reported by the SBJ:

Monarch saying no to a deal that guarantees it a sure amount of cash could be considered an unlikely scenario, but sources are painting a picture of Monarch as being willing to go to the mat if it thinks it is not getting every penny it should.

It has been reported from multiple sources that the bid from Houston businessman, Jim Crane, was higher than the Greenberg-Ryan bid. It is unknown if Crane would be allowed back into the bidding process, should Monarch Alternative Capital not approve of the deal that the Greenberg-Ryan group has on the table.


BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK FEATURE STORY:

(THE BIZ OF HOCKEY)


Maury BrownMaury 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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Key Details of the Texas Rangers Sales Agreement PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 24 January 2010 13:57

RangersLate Saturday night, the long-awaited sales agreement between Hicks Sports Group and a group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and current Rangers president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan was completed. Here’s the key details:

What’s the Name of the Ownership Group? The ownership group that was headed by Tom Hicks was named Texas Rangers Baseball Partners. With the sale, the new ownership group name is Rangers Baseball Express LLC. No word if “Express” is a tie-in to the two banks that Ryan owns, the Express Bank in Alvin, Texas, and the Express Bank of Texas located in Round Rock.

Land Ho! – A key revenue maker in the future for the new ownership is the purchase of land through a separate transaction as part of the sale. As HSG’s statement on the sale outlines, “Ballpark Real Estate, L.P., an independent investment vehicle controlled by Hicks, entered into an agreement to sell or transfer to the Greenberg-Ryan group approximately 153 of the 195 acres around the Ballpark and Cowboys Stadium that is owned or controlled by Ballpark Real Estate or the Hicks family. In return for the transferred land, Ballpark Real Estate will receive cash, notes, and an ownership position in the team.”

Who Sits Where at the Table - Greenberg will serve as the Managing Partner and CEO; Ryan will continue in his role as President; Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will serve as Co-Chairmen of the Board; Tom Hicks will serve as Chairman Emeritus

Beyond Greenberg and Ryan, Who Put The Most Into the Deal? - Co-lead investments in Rangers Baseball Express will be made by Ray Davis of Dallas and the family of Bob and Janice Simpson of Ft. Worth. Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will serve as Co-Chairmen of the Board of Rangers Baseball Express.

Who Is Making the Deal Work? – Here’s the lawyers, bankers, etc. that are making the sale happen:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Raine Advisors and Perrella Weinberg Partners LP served as financial advisors, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal counsel, to Hicks Sports Group. McGuire, Craddock & Strother, P.C. served as real estate counsel and Cousins Properties Services LP served as a real estate consultant to Ballpark Real Estate.
For the buyers, Rangers Baseball Express, Evolution Media Capital and CAA Sports Media Venture served as financial advisors, and Foley & Lardner LLP and Sherrard, German & Kelly, P.C. served as legal counsel. Leib Advisors served as the tax and accounting advisors to the buyer.

What Happened to Hicks? – This is one of the biggest questions coming out of the sales agreement. Multiple reports had Hicks being retained as the second largest investor in the new ownership group. Now, he appears to only have minority ownership at a very low level, possibly only to allow Hicks Sports Group to avoid capital gains taxes on the deal.

What’s Next? – The biggest step now involves the completion of financing. The 40 creditors that HSG defaulted loan payments to has to approve the deal. After that, MLB’s Ownership and Executive Committees will have to sign-off on the deal before a vote by 75 percent of MLB’s 30 owners takes place to complete the ownership transfer. Unless something jumps out of the woodwork, all should be completed before Spring Training.


BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK FEATURE STORY:

(THE BIZ OF HOCKEY)


Maury BrownMaury 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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HICKS SPORTS GROUP COMPLETES SALE OF TEXAS RANGERS TO GREENBERG-RYAN PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 23 January 2010 21:07

Rangers


UPDATE (9:45pm ET). Hicks Sports Group released the fiollowing statement:

Hicks Sports Group LLC announced today that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell the Texas Rangers franchise to Rangers Baseball Express LLC, an investment group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, the legendary pitcher who now serves as president of Texas Rangers Baseball Partners. The agreement represents completion of the second major step to sell the team. It is still subject to approval by Major League Baseball and certain lending institutions, as well as completion of financing.
“Together, we have worked exhaustively since last month to attain this agreement,” said Tom Hicks whose family controls Hicks Sports Group. “It’s a complex business deal that positions the franchise positively for the future.”
In a separate transaction, Ballpark Real Estate, L.P., an independent investment vehicle controlled by Hicks, entered into an agreement to sell or transfer to the Greenberg-Ryan group approximately 153 of the 195 acres around the Ballpark and Cowboys Stadium that is owned or controlled by Ballpark Real Estate or the Hicks family. In return for the transferred land, Ballpark Real Estate will receive cash, notes, and an ownership position in the team.
Greenberg will serve as the Managing Partner and CEO of Rangers Baseball Express while Ryan will continue in his role as President. Co-lead investments in Rangers Baseball Express will be made by Ray Davis of Dallas and the family of Bob and Janice Simpson of Ft. Worth. Ray Davis and Bob Simpson will serve as Co-Chairmen of the Board of Rangers Baseball Express. Greenberg has asked Hicks to continue his association with the Club as Chairman Emeritus.
“Nolan and I greatly appreciate Tom Hicks’ willingness to work beyond the deadline to complete the deal and his support for passing the torch from the Hicks family to our group,” said Greenberg. “His actions speak eloquently to his commitment to serve the best interests of Rangers fans and the community.” "We are fortunate to be assuming the stewardship of a franchise poised for greatness,” Greenberg added. “The tremendous foundation of talent that has been assembled on both the major and minor league levels, combined with our passionate commitment to achieve excellence in every facet of the organization's operation, and the pent-up thirst for success we observe from our fans every day, creates the opportunity for the Rangers to become one of the great franchises in baseball.”
Hicks and Greenberg both expressed their appreciation for the efforts of MLB, particularly the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, for facilitating this stage of the transaction.
Because the transaction is still subject to MLB approval and other matters, specific terms were not announced. The deal could be completed by April.
“In the short-term,” said Hicks, “Chuck, Nolan and I will focus our attention not only on the transaction but on making sure the Club operates in a business-as-usual manner. Pitchers and catchers report in just 26 days.”
“The efforts of the last few years are evident in the very positive direction in which the Rangers are heading,” said Ryan. “We look forward to continuing that work for the 2010 season and beyond. I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this organization as we go forward.”
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Raine Advisors and Perrella Weinberg Partners LP served as financial advisors, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP served as legal counsel, to Hicks Sports Group. McGuire, Craddock & Strother, P.C. served as real estate counsel and Cousins Properties Services LP served as a real estate consultant to Ballpark Real Estate.
For the buyers, Rangers Baseball Express, Evolution Media Capital and CAA Sports Media Venture served as financial advisors, and Foley & Lardner LLP and Sherrard, German & Kelly, P.C. served as legal counsel. Leib Advisors served as the tax and accounting advisors to the buyer.


UPDATE (9:40PM ET): Jeff Wilson reports:

The deal, according to sources, cuts owner Tom Hicks almost entirely out of the picture. He will be a partner with Greenberg and Ryan, but his ownership share will be very small, sources said, and his spot on the new board of directors is in question.

While the percentage is not indicated, the lowest amount of minority ownership for HSG would need to remain at 5 percent or higher for tax avoidance purposes. Below that figure, and HSG would pay tax as if it were a straight cash sale. This action was done most recently with the sale of the Chicago Cubs.


THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

A source to The Biz of Baseball, plus this report by MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, indicates that the sale agreement between Hicks Sports Group and the ownership group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and current Rangers president Nolan Ryan has been completed, with official news coming from the Greenberg/Ryan group shortly.

According to Sullivan, the deal needs approval by the creditors of HSG. It would also need approval by 75 percent of the league's 30 owners, which could be done by conference call.

More news as it becomes available


Maury BrownMaury 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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Texas Rangers Sale Down to Dotting the "I"s and Crossing "T"s PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 02:06

RangersWhile the sale of the Texas Rangers moved past its 30-day window this past Friday, lawyers for Hicks Sports Group and the group headed by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan have been working almost non-stop to complete the sale. According to a source close to the negotiations, the process is down to “dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s” with the sale being completed “very, very shortly.”

The prospect that a deal could be reached by the weekend continues to be the effort.

While there had been discussions that the exclusive negotiations between Greenberg/Ryan group might be dropped and other bidders, such as Jim Crane might jump back into the mix, that activity does not seem to be occurring, another sign that the sale is exceptionally close to being completed.

As for the sale price, we had projected a ceiling of approx. $530 million. That may have been a reasonable point in the negotiations, but with HSG’s 40 creditors looking to gain as much as possible from the sale, reports, such as one from SI.com’s Jon Heyman, have the price pegged at approx. $570 million.

When the deal is completed, Greenberg will be the managing partner, Ryan will continue being the president of the Rangers, and current owner Tom Hicks will stay with the organization as a minority partner, holding the second highest amount of equity in the club.

An aspect of the sale that has not been discussed involves Hicks’ retaining minority ownership and tax avoidance. If Hicks were to have sold the club outright, he would have had to pay capital gains tax in the tens of millions of dollars. In the recent $845 million sale of the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family that has Tribune retaining a 5 percent ownership stake in the club, Tribune saved approx. $100 million in taxes. With Hicks staying on as a minority partner, he will avoid such taxes.


Maury BrownMaury 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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Expect Sales Agreement on the Texas Rangers to Occur Any Day PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 16 January 2010 12:59

RangersWith the late night statement from Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan last night (see the complete statement, here) regarding the negotiations for the sale of the Texas Rangers with current owner Tom Hicks, the sale agreement could be coming any day. The statement reads, in part:

We have made extraordinary progress the last couple of weeks and have come too far to walk away now. We are fully committed and prepared to work around the clock if that’s what it takes to reach a final agreement. We are at a point where deals get done as long as both parties share a desire to cross the finish line together. There just isn't much left to resolve.

It should be noted that there’s little doubting that the deal is near completion. Hicks, as well as the league would not allow such statement to be released unless the parties were exceptionally close.

Sources to The Biz of Baseball have said that the sides are working diligently all weekend to try and finalize the sales agreement.

Once the sales agreement were to be reached 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.


Maury BrownMaury 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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GREENBERG/RYAN GROUP RELEASES STATEMENT ON SALE OF TEXAS RANGERS PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 16 January 2010 01:27

RangersThis is breaking news...

The 30-day exclusive negotiating window between Hicks Sports Group and the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group expired today on the sale of the Texas Rangers. While the parties had targeted the date to reach conclusion, the sales agreement was not reached.

The following joint statement was released by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan regarding their negotiations to purchase the Texas Rangers:

Tonight, as the exclusive negotiating period announced on December 15 by Hicks Sports Group (HSG) expires, we are on the verge of an agreement that would provide Tom Hicks the value he seeks and the Texas Rangers the resources to become champions. 

We have made extraordinary progress the last couple of weeks and have come too far to walk away now. We are fully committed and prepared to work around the clock if that’s what it takes to reach a final agreement. We are at a point where deals get done as long as both parties share a desire to cross the finish line together. There just isn't much left to resolve.

With the continued cooperation of Tom Hicks and HSG, we are certain an agreement can be finalized so we can immediately get to work on delivering the success this franchise and its fans deserve.

More news as it becomes available


Maury BrownMaury 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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Will Hicks Agree to the Sale of the Texas Rangers Tomorrow? PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 14 January 2010 12:08

Texas RangersIt 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 BrownMaury 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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