Hopes of completing the sale of the Texas Rangers before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline were kept alive Wednesday, when a judge approved a multimillion loan from Major League Baseball to help keep the club afloat during bankruptcy proceedings.
The Rangers have a plan to pay off $75 million of the club's debt, and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn set a June 15 hearing on the matter. If approved, that would remove the team from additional claims by other creditors against Hicks Sports Group, which is not part of the bankruptcy filing.
A decision could be issued at a July 9 hearing.
"We're pleased, and [the court dates] allow us to do the things important to us," said team president Nolan Ryan, whose group is the team's prospective buyer.
Ryan and his partner, Chuck Greenberg, do not know when the sale will go through, but they've maintained that the uncertainty won't affect their plans to augment the roster. Ryan said the Rangers will be active at the July 31 non-waiver Trading Deadline, and the management team in place will be responsible for negotiating contracts with prospects from the First-Year Player Draft.
The sale has been stalled for some time after the company of the current owner, Hicks Sports Group, defaulted on $525 million in loans. The Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Monday as a way to facilitate the completion of the sale of the club to the Greenberg-Ryan group.
Lynn's ruling came after a two-day hearing in which the court attempted to decide who should provide the team's interim funding. The lenders and Major League Baseball presented identical offers of $21.5 million, and Kellie Fischer, the team's chief financial officer, testified that the club preferred a loan from the league because they been successful partners in previous financial matters.
Stephen Shimshak, an attorney for Major League Baseball, said the league was the best lender because it is "committed to the success of the Texas Rangers." The judge ruled that the team could keep making severance payments to former employees and also pay back some vendors -- owed a total of $2.4 million -- deemed top priority.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.