Judge keeps Rangers' Aug. 4 auction date

Judge keeps Rangers' Aug. 4 auction date

ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers baseball club, which moved here in 1971 and is currently in first place in the American League West, is being put up for auction on Aug. 4.

Bankruptcy judge Michael Lynn ruled on Thursday that the Rangers auction will proceed as scheduled on Aug. 4. The lenders who hold the debt on Hicks Sports Group had asked that the auction be postponed to as late as Sept. 30 to allow more buyers to put together bids.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, reportedly has considered getting involved, either on his own or together with Dallas real estate investor Jeff Beck. Houston businessman Jim Crane also has long expressed interest in potentially buying a Major League franchise in Texas.

A group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg, which includes club president Nolan Ryan, reached an agreement on Jan. 23 to buy the team and land around the Ballpark in Arlington from current owner Tom Hicks for $575 million. The sale must be approved by the lenders who hold the debt on HSG.

Those creditors have opposed the sale, arguing that other potential buyers might offer more than the Greenberg-Ryan group agreed to pay. They also have objected that money from the sale of the land around the Ballpark would go to Hicks and not to the lenders.

The Rangers filed for bankruptcy in May. If Lynn had approved the sale at that time, the club would have paid $75 million directly to the lenders and emerged from bankruptcy. The lenders would have then dealt directly with HSG over the rest of the proceeds from the sale.

Major League Baseball has asserted the right to ultimately approve any party that buys the Rangers. MLB has reportedly approved Cuban as a bidder but has not given final approval on anybody to actually purchase the team. Commissioner Bud Selig has supported the Greenberg group from the beginning because of Ryan's involvement.

Ryan has suggested that he will only stay involved if the Greenberg group buys the team and will walk away if anybody else takes over. Ryan was hired by Hicks in February 2008 to handle the day-to-day operations of the Rangers and has made it clear he is not willing to relinquish those duties.

Cuban bought the Mavericks on Jan 4, 2000, from a group headed by Ross Perot Jr. The two are currently engaged in a legal dispute over the Mavericks and the Victory Park real estate development around American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks have been one of the most successful NBA teams since Cuban took over but have yet to win an NBA title. They lost in the 2006 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat. Cuban, who sits courtside at almost every game home and away, has been fined numerous times by NBA Commissioner David Stern for criticizing league officials.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.