Rangers auction blog: 'We're done'

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Staff and Wire Reports

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 5 at 4:34 PM

Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg outlasted Mark Cuban and Jim Crane to win the high-stakes bidding war for the bankrupt Texas Rangers. WFAA's Byron Harris and Chris Hawes are  live at the U.S. Court House in Fort Worth, blogging about the auction and its outcome:

9:40 a.m. The auction yielded $100 million more for the Rangers than the original offer by Ryan/Greenberg. They are no saying it may be the highest baseball team price tag in history. Judge D. Michael Lynn praised Cuban for "stepping aside with grace" at the end of the auction.

1:01 a.m. At a news conference outside the U.S. Court House, Nolan Ryan admits that even with the last bid, his team "didn't know if that would get it done or not." The Hall of Fame pitcher said it was a competitive process, but they probably now feel better about it than the other side does.

Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, Ryan's partner, was asked if they were prepared to go higher after that last bid. "We'll never know, will we?" he answered. "We were here to win the bidding process, and we're here to win the World Series."

12:57 a.m. The court still needs to certify the winning bid; that will come later on Thursday.

12:54 a.m.  The Ryan/Greenberg cash bid at $385 million beat Mark Cuban's $390 cash bid because of court deductions on the Cuban bid.

12:51 a.m. There were cheers and a standing ovation at the U.S. Court House in Fort Worth after the Nolan Ryan group was announced as winner in the high-stakes bidding war for the Texas Rangers. (AP)

12:43 a.m. Greenberg and Ryan win the bidding for the Texas Rangers with an offer of $385 million.

12:41 a.m. Mark Cuban just congratulated an attorney for the Greenberg/Ryan group, saying, "Congratulations, we're done." We're about to find out what that means.

12:08 a.m. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane have increased their cash bid for the Texas Rangers to $390 million, topping the latest offer from Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg by $25 million.

WEDNESDAY

11:44 p.m. The latest round of bids for the Texas Rangers baseball team have been announced. The cash bid from Mark Cuban's group is $356 million. Nolan Ryan's group has just countered with a $365 million bid. The court is now evaluating the latest offer.

10:32 p.m. Court is reconvening as the sale of the Texas Rangers may be reaching a critical point, more than 13 hours after the start of this legal and financial drama.

9:34 p.m. The latest bid for the Rangers from Mark Cuban's side is $355 million cash, a total that does not include debt. The offer from Nolan Ryan's camp is $320 million. The chief restructuring officer is now evaluating the situation. "The bottom line is, we've bid tens of millions of dollars above where we started," said Clifton Jessup, an attorney for the Cuban group. "We're here to put money on the table."

9:32 p.m. Tom Lauria, an attorney for the Ryan-Greenberg group, declares, "This is not an auction. An auction has rules... we're not prepared to continue." But Judge Nelms said they will move forward. The court is waiting for another bid from Mark Cuban.

9:07 p.m. Judge Russell Nelms says the parties need to move the proceedings along. The chief restructuring officer believes the two bids for the Rangers are neck-and-neck at this time; he is awaiting information from spreadsheets that should arrive at any minute.

8:44 p.m. The hearing to decide the future ownership of the Texas Rangers is expected to resume at 9 p.m. with the court-appointed restructuring officer providing his assessment of which side has the higher bid. More bidding could follow.

8:35 p.m. Chuck Greenberg says he has "no predictions" as to whether we'll see the auction for the Rangers resolved tonight. The recess that was extended from its 6:15 end time continues...

6:40 p.m. Recess was apparently extended; court hasn't yet reconvened.

5:51 p.m. After recess, the Ryan-Greenberg group topped Mark Cuban's bid for the Texas Rangers by $2 million. Cuban then countered with a $15 million increase over that bid. Court is now in recess while the numbers are evaluated, and is expected to reconvene at 6:15 p.m.

4:39 p.m. Judge Russell Nelms tells News 8 this auction could go into the night. The current recess has been extended until 5:30 so the Greenberg-Ryan group can examine Mark Cuban's bid. Nelms confirmed G-R had not received a bid in the same form as its own until minutes ago.

4:19 p.m. Cuban's side says Ryan's side has been trying to avoid an auction. Greenberg/Ryan accuse Cuban of trying to delay the process, because their financing expires on August 12.

4:15 p.m. Chuck Greenberg tells me he and Nolan Ryan have still not seen the Cuban bid. Greenberg says it was not in by the 8 p.m. deadline last night and as of now, 4:15 p.m., Greenberg and Ryan still have not seen Cuban's bid.

3:58 p.m. In addition, the Greenberg/Ryan team could throw a wrench in the works by appealing this proceeding. Potentially, then a $25 million bid could be worth a lot less when the cash is finally delivered to the debtors months down the road. At least that's what Ryan's boosters are saying in the hallways.

3:53 p.m. There is a time/money cost associated with the Cuban bid. They may not have the cash in hand. Plus, Major League Baseball must approve Cuban as an owner.

3:50 p.m. It's hard to decipher the numbers so far. Cuban's bid may be $25 million above the Greenberg/Ryan bid, but it isn't clear how. Presumably, it is a cash increase over the $306 million in cash offered by Greenberg/Ryan. But the Greenberg/Ryan group wants time to look.

3:37 p.m. Emotions are sky high in the auction that is finally under way. In a hallway during a recess after the first session, a cussing match broke out between Tom Lauria, Greenberg/Ryan lead attorney, and Lou Strubeck, who is the attorney for the Rangers Chief reorganizing officer. "F*** you!" Lauria said to Strubeck. "You've been trying to stick it up my a** for the last hour!"

3:13 p.m. One-hour recess for Ryan group to evaluate.

3:09 p.m. Creditors' attorney says auction could be completed today.

3:08 p.m. Court reorganization officer says bidding can go 12 hours. Not needed as GR attorney suggests bidding can go forward in one hour.

3:00 p.m. Cuban's lawyer Clifton Jessup says there has been a subterranean bidding process going on for a week.

3:00 p.m. An attorney for Nolan Ryan's group says the bid by Mark Cuban's group has costs associated with it that make it less desirable.

3:00 p.m. An attorney for Nolan Ryan's group says the bid by Mark Cuban's group has costs associated with it that make it less desirable.

2:52 p.m. Cuban's bid is higher by approximately $25 million.

2:51 p.m. Hearing finally begins.

2:46 p.m. Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg are standing at the side of the courtroom. They've been told to find a seat.

2:41 p.m. A US Marshal just told the courtroom proceedings will begin at 2:45p.m.

2:37 p.m. Cuban and his troops appear ready to go. Ryan and his crew are not yet seated. Tom Hicks is absent at the moment.

2:27 p.m. Mark Cuban is back in the courtroom, with his lead attorney, Clifton Jessup. He seems to be in a jovial mood.

1:55 p.m. A US Marshal is holding open a front entry door to the courtroom as if he's waiting for someone.

1:51 p.m. Mark Cuban just strolled through the courtroom. But the auction has not yet begun.

1:37 p.m. After hours of delays, things are starting to stir in judge Russell Nelms' courtroom. Proceedings were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning. Tomorrow was supposed to be a day when the deal would be confirmed. Now it seems possible that the process could still be underway. The back benches are crammed here. Judge Nelms has not appeared since this morning. Everyone is ready for something to happen.

1:11 p.m. It's nearly 1 p.m. and proceedings still have not begun.

12:02 p.m. It was all supposed to start at 9 a.m., we got here at 7:30 a.m. but nothing's happened yet. But all of the players are in position. Everybody in this whole thing has been jockeying for position. This morning, there was a challenge about whether the Cuban group would even be able to bid in this deal. It was decided that Cuban was a legitimate bidder. Then there was a question over whether Greenberg/Ryan could open up the bidding. They wanted to up their bid before everything started. We were supposed to come back at 11 a.m., nothing happened. Then Greenberg/Ryan said we want to adjust our opening bid. Now we are taking a recess for them to adjust their bid. The judge in this case is kind of like a master of ceremonies. He comes into the courtroom and talks to everybody very personably. He tells us what's going on but at the moment, nobody really knows what is going on. Presumably, only the players, Cuban and Ryan really do.

11:15 a.m. No "celebrities" have yet appeared in the courtroom, save Tom Hicks. No Nolan Ryan, no Mark Cuban.

11:09 a.m. Now Greenberg/Ryan (GR also Baseball Express) wants time to adjust its opening bid. It looks like it will be 12:30 p.m. until they, Greenberg/Ryan, can make a higher bid.

11:04 a.m. Judge Russell Nelms is almost like a master of ceremonies. He just came back into the courtroom and addressed the audience saying there will be a delay until 11:30 a.m., and then later.

11:02 a.m. As we approach the auction, two hours behind schedule, the front of the courtroom is now filling up.

10:11 a.m. The auction of the Texas Rangers has been delayed a couple of hours as officials try to determine which of two bids is higher. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Russell Nelms told the courtroom Wednesday that the auction can't start until the highest bid is determined. There are only two bidders: A group led by outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane, and Major League Baseball's preferred buyer, a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg. The Rangers have been in bankruptcy protection since May. - Associated Press

10:02 a.m. Chief restructuring officer William Snyder and the debtors are now considering who has the highest bid to start the auction. This will happen at 11 a.m.

9:59 a.m. Nelms says Radical Pitch is qualified. Auction will now start at 11 a.m.

9:57 a.m. In this dark wood courtroom, all the players have assigned seats. Radical Pitch, which is the partnership formed last month by Mark Cuban to bid for the Rangers, Baseball Express, the Greenberg/Ryan partnership, the first lien holders and second lien holders Judge Russell Nelms just walked into the courtroom. Said the delay in starting was due to an objection over whether Radical Pitch is a qualified bidder

9:35 a.m. The players appear to be in judge Nelms Chambers. Either dealing or fighting. I suspect the latter.

9:30 a.m. Thirty minutes after scheduled start, only the oil paintings of former judges occupy the front of the court. Looks like a deal is going down somewhere on this floor. Just don't know what.

9:22 a.m. I saw Clifton Jessup, Mark Cuban's lead attorney in the hallway just after 8 a.m. Haven't seen him since. He's no doubt in a backroom. Front of courtroom still empty. Tick tock.

9:16 a.m. Nearly 15 minutes after the auction was to have started, none of the main players is here. Only spectators. Something may be cooking. A courtroom artist sits by himself. There's nothing to draw.

9:06 a.m. Court still has not begun. Hicks and a cadre of companions have now left the courtroom, presumably to caucus in one of the rooms that have been designated as meeting rooms on the second floor of this small, serene art deco courthouse.

9:00 a.m. Hicks sits in the second row what I guess would be the home dugout. Although it's hard to describe who's the home team, since the Greenberg/Ryan, bid is clearly the home-town favorite

8:55 a.m. The courtroom is filling up, mostly with lawyerly types in pin stripes. A few baseball fans in the last row. The courtroom hushed as Tom Hicks came in just seconds ago.

8:34 a.m. Major League Baseball's preferred buyer for the Texas Rangers says it has enhanced its bid in preparation for auction of the team. The group led by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg on Wednesday morning said it has dropped a deal to buy stadium parking lots in Arlington, worth about $70 million, saying those were not part of the bankrupt team's assets. The group says it wanted to avoid confusion and ensure a "level playing field" at the auction Wednesday. The group's total bid for the team remains at about $520 million. The Greenberg-Ryan group will face off against one other bidder, a group led by outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane. That was the only bid submitted by Tuesday night's deadline, and its amount has not been revealed. - Associated Press

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