Texas Rangers auction date in question

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The Aug. 4 auction to sell the Texas Rangers should be delayed because potential buyers will have a hard time securing financing by then, the court-appointed restructuring officer told a bankruptcy judge Tuesday.

William K. Snyder, appointed to make sure the team was maximizing its assets, suggested that a mediator set the date after talking to all potential buyers about their financing. The emergency hearing, which was requested by angry creditors who oppose the bidding procedures, was expected to last all day Tuesday.

Major League Baseball months ago endorsed a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher and Rangers president Nolan Ryan and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg as the best buyer. Selling the team to Greenberg-Ryan's group and repaying creditors $75 million was the Rangers' plan when it filed for bankruptcy in May.

But lenders argued that the Greenberg-Ryan's $575 million bid wasn't the highest, so last week the judge approved the auction and bidding procedures that are heavily controlled by Major League Baseball. However, lenders and Snyder now say the Greenberg-Ryan group could be the only bidder.

"Having a one-legged auction was not my idea of a fair process," Snyder told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn.

The bidding procedures set the Greenberg-Ryan group's offer as the opening bid, and they want the auction to proceed Aug. 4 because their financing guarantee is set to expire Aug. 12.

Snyder said two more potential buyers have emerged in addition to Houston businessman Jim Crane and Dallas investor Jeff Beck, both cleared by MLB to submit bids.

He said one of the new potential bidders has such high personal wealth that he could fund the deal without financing. But Snyder said he didn't know if that potential bidder had the money "laying around in a checking account" and that obtaining financing may take a few weeks.

The judge told Snyder not to reveal any names or bid amounts after creditors objected when Glenn Kurtz, at attorney for Greenberg-Ryan's group, asked if Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is an interested bidder.

Last week, Cuban told some news outlets that he was interested in buying the American League West-leading Rangers by either joining Greenberg-Ryan's group or another group as a major investor.

"The economics have changed, which has gotten me interested," Cuban told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an e-mail. "My lawyers are still going through everything, but the bigger point is that I now have an interest."

Cuban has not responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press. Last year, he was unsuccessful in his bid to buy the Chicago Cubs.