BOB:  Rangers Sold

Greenberg/Ryan group buys Rangers

The ownership group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan walked away with the prize last week as they won the bankruptcy auction for the Texas Rangers. The winning bid was $593 million in an event that went well into the night last Wednesday and topped the $581 million bid made by the group that included Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Now all that’s left to seal the deal is for the owners to vote on the ownership change later this week although this should be a forgone conclusion since the Greenberg/Ryan group were the league’s top candidate from day one.

The winning sales price includes $385 million in cash and $208 million in liabilities. The land around the ballpark wasn’t included. Greenberg will be the managing partner and Ryan will continue in his duties as the team’s president. There’s a little bit of conspiracy theory being thrown around because it seemed like the bidding ended abruptly and the price could have gone higher but this ends what was a long and drawn out process for the team. Unfortunately for me, it gave me content to write about just about every week so it’s one less thing I’ll have to rely on.

San Jose puts stadium plans on hold

After raising the ire of MLB, San Jose mayor Chuck Reed backed off of plans to put a stadium provision on this fall’s ballot. In order to entice Reed to back off, MLB has agreed to pay the costs necessary to put the measure on a special spring ballot. The estimated cost to do this is $1 million.

Reed looks at this as win/win. If the ballot measure would have been pushed through, it would have forced the league’s hand. Now, even with the ballot measure delayed indefinitely, the issue was forced into the spotlight after months of little action. The league set up a committee 16 months ago to figure out what’s best for the Oakland Athletics and to date, there’s been little that’s come out of it.

Rays stadium talks delayed

The other recurring stadium story is the Tampa Bay Rays and their quest for a new ballpark. The latest out of St. Petersburg is that both the Rays and city officials have decided to wait until the end of the season to bring up the stadium issue again. At this point, neither side was budging anyway so the hiatus will probably mean little. The only wiggle room St. Petersburg is giving the Rays is that they’re allowing the team to look at other options within St. Petersburg. The Rays said that they need to explore all options to determine what’s best for the team.

At this point, I think the best thing for both sides is to just settle. The Rays don’t want to be there and if they leave, the awarded damages could take years to resolve. St. Petersburg doesn’t get much out of the battle because in the end, they’ll just be arguing over how much money they get. How long this drags out will determine whether the city gets the money or whether it goes to the attorneys if a legal battle happens.

Fred Wilpon sued over Maddoff losses

This time last year, there was concern that New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon would have to sell the team in order to cover losses he incurred in the Bernie Maddoff ponzi scheme scandal. Those rumors turned out to be false and Wilpon’s losses were a lot less then anyone initially thought. In fact, Wilpon took more out of the fund than he put in and they’re trying to recoup the gain to pay others who were net losers.

Now Wilpon is taking more heat because of Maddoff but for a different reason. Now he’s being sued by employees of his investment company, Sterling Equities because they say he steered them in the direction of Maddoff as well. In short, many employees of Wilpon appear to have lost their retirement savings and they’re blaming Wilpon for it. The end result is a class-action lawsuit.

Minor League wrap

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Great Lakes Loons extended their player development agreement by four years earlier this week. The original agreement would have expired this year so now the Midland, Mich.-based Loons will be a Dodgers affiliate through 2014. The Loons came into existence in 2007 and for all of that time, they’ve been a Dodgers affiliate.

In league-wide news, Minor League Baseball and New Era Cap extended their partnership through 2016. For an undisclosed sum, New Era will will be the official batting practice cap of minor league baseball. The current deal would have expired this year and New Era has had a business relationship with Minor League Baseball for nearly 20 years.

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The Loons play in Midland, Michigan.