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Hicks' sale of Rangers finalized

Rangers' sale to Greenberg group finalized

ARLINGTON -- A group headed by club president Nolan Ryan and Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg has completed the initial step of purchasing controlling interest in the Rangers from owner Tom Hicks.

An official announcement was made by Hicks Sports Group on Saturday night. There is no final sale price, but it is expected to be in excess of $500 million. The agreement is still subject to approval by Major League Baseball and the lending institutions that hold the debt on Hicks Sports Group. There is also still some financing that needs to be completed.

"Together, we have worked exhaustively since last month to attain this agreement," Hicks said in a statement. "It's a complex business deal that positions the franchise positively for the future."

Hicks, in a separate transaction, agreed to sell or transfer 153 of the 195 acres around the Ballpark that his family owns in return for cash, notes and a minority ownership position within the Rangers.

Greenberg will serve as managing partner and CEO of what will be known as Rangers Baseball Express. Ryan will be a limited partner and remain club president.

Dallas businessman Ray Davis of Dallas and Bob Simpson of Fort Worth, who is chairman of XTO Energy, have been named co-chairmen of the board of Rangers Baseball Express. Hicks will hold the title of 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," Greenberg said in the statement. "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. 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."

The next step is to submit the agreement to Major League Baseball for review by the ownership committee and approval by 75 percent of club owners, as well as approval by the lending institutions.

The Rangers are hoping to have everything completed in April.

Saturday's agreement is not expected to have an immediate impact on the Rangers' offseason plans, though final approval at some point could give them payroll flexibility going into the season and leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rangers are expected to have a payroll of just over $70 million going into the season.

"In the short-term," Hicks said, "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."

Approval by Major League Baseball is expected. Commissioner Bud Selig has been a strong supporter of Greenberg's group, and his office has pushed to help get this deal done. Irwin Raij, who has represented Major League Baseball on a number of significant issues, has been a part of Greenberg's negotiating team. Approval by the lending institutions remains a significant step.

"The efforts of the last few years are evident in the very positive direction in which the Rangers are heading," Ryan said. "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."

Greenberg has been a Minor League owner for the past eight years in Altoona and State College, Pa., and in Myrtle Beach, S.C. As an attorney operating out of Pittsburgh, he was instrumental in putting together deals that helped NHL great Mario Lemieux buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1999, and he assisted another group in their purchase of the NHL's Florida Panthers in 2001.

His company, Greenberg Sports Group, also provides management, consulting and marketing services to the sports industry all across the country. His expertise is in the marketing, promotional and business side of the game, and Greenberg said that Ryan will be in charge of the Rangers' baseball operations.

The Greenberg-Ryan group would become the sixth entity to own the Rangers since the club moved to Texas from Washington, D.C., in 1971. Minnesota businessman Bob Short was the owner when the Washington Senators first moved here.

Short sold the club in 1974 to Fort Worth businessman Brad Corbett. Fort Worth oilman Eddie Chiles bought the team in 1980 and then sold it in 1989 to a group led by former President George Bush and Rusty Rose. Tom Schieffer eventually emerged as the dominant member of that group, becoming club president in 1990 and managing general partner in 1994 when Bush became governor of Texas. Hicks, who already owned the NHL's Dallas Stars, bought the Rangers in 1998.

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

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